Mongolian Khan camp wary of raiders

Mr Lang Lin and his pride and joy Mongolian Khan. (Photo: Wally O’Hearn).

Mr Lang Lin and his pride and joy Mongolian Khan. (Photo: Wally O’Hearn).

The northern hemisphere contenders loom as formidable obstacles for Cambridge superstar Mongolian Khan in tomorrow’s Gr. 1 Caulfield Cup.

Assessing the chances of the four visitors is not an exact science, but history suggests they will run well and Japanese gallopers, in particular, have an impressive record in Australia.

Admire Rakti’s stunning victory last year was the third Caulfield Cup win for a northern hemisphere-trained galloper in the space of seven years.

Over the past decade the visitors have a record of three wins, two seconds, a third and three fourths from 22 runners, with the five Japanese runners producing a win, a second and a third.

The biggest northern hemisphere contingent was in 2011, when six ran and there were four the following year. Fourth placegetter Manighar was the best of them in 2011, but only two of the six runners finished further back than seventh and the visitors finished first, fourth and fifth in 2012.

Bearing in mind that some were using the Caulfield Cup more as a Melbourne Cup lead-up, the Caulfield results represent an impressive strike rate. And that is reflected in the betting market this week.

Mongolian Khan is a dominant favourite, but the Japanese pair of Fame Game and Hokko Brave and English galloper Snow Sky are all high in the market. The other visitor, Trip To Paris, looks much more suited to the Melbourne Cup.

Neither Fame Game nor Hokko Brave have been Group One winners in Japan and the latter has not even won a Group race. However, Fame Game was Group One-placed at his last start and has been a Group Two winner and Hoko Brave recorded a Group One placing last year.

In addition, the record of the Japanese horses in Australia is too good to ignore.

Delta Blues and Pop Rock streeted the opposition when providing the Melbourne Cup quinella in 2006, but the quarantine regulations meant that the Japanese gallopers did not target Australia again until last year.

Hana’s Goal, a largely unheralded Japanese mare, won the Gr. 1 All Aged Stakes and finished sixth in the Gr. 1 Doncaster Handicap at the 2014 Sydney autumn carnival and Admire Rakti was recording his first Group One win when taking the Caulfield Cup with 58kg.

Real Impact won the Gr. 1 Ryder Stakes and ran second in the Doncaster at this year’s autumn carnival and To The World was runner-up in the Gr. 1 BMW.

Rider Zac Purton has already suggested that Fame Game will be better suited at Flemington than Caulfield but the horse, who is by the same sire as Admire Rakti, does have solid form around 2400 metres.

His last race, in May, was over 3200 metres, when he finished second behind top stayer Gold Ship in the Gr. 1 Tenno Sho, but he won a Group Two 2500-metre event at Tokyo three starts earlier and has been Group Two-placed over 2200.

Fame Game has had only 16 starts and while staying is his forte – with three wins and two seconds from five starts at 2500m or further – he will have class on his side tomorrow.

Hokko Brave has a less convincing strike rate than Fame Game, but was beaten less than two lengths when sixth, at level weights, behind Gold Ship and Fame Game at his last start. He ran third in a Group Two 2500m two starts back and was runner-up in the corresponding race last year.

Snow Sky has done most of his racing against smaller fields and failed in the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) last December. But he won two successive Group Two races this year, including the Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) at Royal Ascot, and started favourite when unplaced in the prestigious Gr. 1 King George VI Stakes (2400m) at Ascot at his last start.

NZ Racing Desk