Milestone Melbourne Cup quinella for Japan

The magnificent one-two finish by Delta Blues and Pop Rock in yesterday's $A5 million VRC Melbourne Cup 3200m G1 confirmed the international status of the race and the place of Japan among the world's major breeding & racing nations.

The thoroughly resolute DELTA BLUES
(red cap) holds out the courageous POP ROCK in a finish as thrilling as any seen in a Melbourne Cup.
PHOTO: Racing and Sports

The rise of Japan's thoroughbred industry is news only to those who haven't been paying attention to the huge investment in bloodstock over the past 20 years by the Yoshida family at Shadai Farm, and the Japan Racing Association subsidiary, the Japan Bloodstock Breeders' Association (JBBA).

The industry's most significant investment during that period is undoubtedly the 1989 US Horse of the Year Sunday Silence (USA), purchased by Zenya Yoshida for Shadai Farm where he stood until his death in 2002. Sunday Silence was sensationally successful, heading Japan's general sires' list from 1995 to 2005 and transforming the Japanese thoroughbred gene pool in the manner of Northern Dancer with whose descendants he crossed so effectively.

It's no surprise to see him in the immediate pedigrees of the Melbourne Cup winner and runner-up. Delta Blues is by Dance in the Dark, a son of Sunday Silence, and Pop Rock is by the Shadai-owned 1996 European Horse of the Year Helissio out of the Sunday Silence mare Pops. Although none of the five Kiwi-bred runners finished closer than Activation's eighth, the Japan bloodstock industry is today receiving warm congratulations from its many New Zealand friends and associates. The two industries have a long-standing relationship that began almost 40 years ago when Bay of Plenty businessman Bob Silson suggested holding an annual race in each country to celebrate their shared interest in the sport. The first Japan-New Zealand International Trophy race was held in 1971.

NZTBA chief executive Michael Martin says, "Over the past ten or fifteen years I've watched and admired the way the Japanese industry has gone about investing in the best bloodstock in the world and educating its horsemen so they can compete on the world stage. The Melbourne Cup quinella is nothing less than a milestone achievement for Japan." He has already sent a letter of congratulations to Dr Teruyuki Imahara, executive vice president of the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association, which has had a close relationship with the NZTBA for several years.

Ross and Jo Mackie at Java Thoroughbreds near Matamata were delighted by the Cup result on two counts. Their new stallion, Shadai's 2004 Japan Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy beat Delta Blues at his last raceday start, and the Yoshidas' already scheduled visit to the Mackies later this week has attracted media interest. And media interest in future Japanese assaults on major Australian races is now guaranteed.

- Susan Archer


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