Nikkei Shinshun Hai Odds & More Races from Japan

This weekend sees some top-class action from Japan with the $855,000 Nikkei Shinshun Hai Handicap taking center stage on Sunday at Chukyo with Weltreisende looking the likely favorite to take this valuable purse.

This is backed up by the Grade 3 Keisei Hai, a race for three-year-olds and a trial for the Japanese classics later in the year.

Prior to that on Saturday we have the Grade 3 Aichi Hai. This looks a fascinating contest with last year’s winner Ruby Casablanca trying to retain the title, but she has a tough assignment with the likely class droppers Art House and Rouge Eveil topping the boards.

Nikkei Shinshun Hai

Grade 2 Handicap – Purse $855,000 – 2200 meters (1 mile 3 furlongs) – Turf – 4-Year-Olds and Up

A top-class handicap and the one that looks like the favorite on the boards is Weltreisende, who put up a mighty performance to finish third in the Japan Cup back in November. He only had three starts in 2022, winning a Grade 3 and then disappointing in a Grade 2 before the excellent run in the Japan Cup. He has plenty of back class and will be a major player here.

Robertson Quay has won three of his last six starts and was a very good second last time in the Sankei Sho when behind the top-class Geraldina. That run was only the second start since May, so the horse is entitled to be a lot sharper now.

Verona City is one of the youngest in this lineup at 4 years old and is relatively lightly raced with just 10 career starts. However, the horse has hit the board in eight out of ten races and is highly consistent. Was well beaten in the Japanese St Leger in October, but has since finished second in a minor stakes race.

Of the others then Yamanin Zest, Explosion, and Pradaria all look sure to run solid races, and of the three, then Yamanin Zest could be the one to do best.

He ran very well in the Japanese St Leger when last seen, and two back had run well to finish second in the Kobe Shimbun Hai, the same grade as today.

Nikkei Shinshun Hai Odds & Betting Pick

Yamanin ZestY.Take+440
Robertson QuayT.Ito+410
Verona CityY.Kawada+640
King of DragonR.Sakai+3930
African GoldK.Kokubun+7950
Sanrei PocketK.Sameshima+1050

A tough race to call and we are going to look for some value on the boards, and it is the four-year-old VERONA CITY who gets a narrow vote cutting back in distance and in the right spot class-wise.

Weltreisende will be a popular choice on the boards and looks the likely favorite. He should run very well and may well be good enough but will be a short enough price on the boards.

Of the others, then Yamanin Zest and Robertson Quay should be battling for a share of the money.

The Aichi Hai

Grade 3 – Purse $567,000 – 2000 meters (1 ¼ miles) – Turf – 4-Year-Olds and Up – Fillies & Mares

We have to start with last year’s winner Ruby Casablanca (7/1) who looks to have been laid out to double up in this valuable contest. Her form coming into this is solid and she was a good second last time in this spot after being outclassed in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup two starts back.

There is no doubting the chances of Art House (4/1), and he is one of two at the top of the morning lines odds, with the other being Bijin.

Art House has had six career starts so far, winning three of those, and most recently finishing 5th of 16 in the Grade 1 Shuko Sho. She also performed creditably in the Japanese Oaks back in May 2022. In between those two runs, she won a Grade 2 so takes a pretty steep class drop today.

Satono Cecil (28/1) has finished in the first two in nine of her sixteen career starts, including two runner-up spots in this grade during her last three runs. A highly consistent mare, her chance of hitting the board at big odds is there for all to see.

Maria Elena (9/1) is a very consistent performer at this level and in her last three attempts at Grade 3 level, her form figures read 3-1-2-0, so she is clearly in decent nick. In between those runs, she was beaten against tougher foes but looks in the right class spot today.

Others that look to hold solid chances here include, AndVaranaut, Sainte Rose, and Rouge Eveil.

Of those three, then Rouge Eveil (7/1) is the one who catches the eye. She has won four of her last six starts and in the two where she failed to win, they came in the Grade 1 Japanese Oaks and the Grade 2 Sho Flora Stakes when not beaten far.

Aichi Hai Odds & Betting Prediction

Satono CecilC.Lemaire+860
Maria ElenaK.Matsuyama+200
Art HouseY.Kawada+280
Erika VitaM.Iwata+2660
Ho O IxellesK.Maruta+2660
Love You LiveR.Sakai+10900
Sainte RoseY.Fukunaga+1240
Ruby CasablancaY.Take+770
Rouge EveilK.Tosaki+640
Fiori ChiariK.Sameshima+10900
Icon TailorY.Hishida+2000
Ria AmeliaR.Wada+8710

There is no doubt that Rouge Eveil (7/1) is a classy filly and although she is stepping back up the class ladder today, she looks like being a strong closer here and has every chance of hitting the board.

The vote though goes to ART HOUSE (4/1) who is three from six and although finishing one spot behind Rouge Eveil in the Oaks, she clearly did not stay the mile-and-a-half trip.

Ruby Casablanca (7/1) and Maria Elena (9/1) should be fighting it out for a share of the purse.

The Keisei Hai

Grade 3 – Purse $567,000 – 2000 meters (1 ¼ miles) – Turf – 3-Year-Olds

The horse that most horse players will be looking at here is Seven Magician. He ran three times as two year old when breaking the maiden tag first time and then following up on his second start to win at Hanshin over a mile and a quarter when going gate to wire. He was stepped up the class ladder on his last run, finishing 6th of 18 in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes just over two weeks ago.

Another of these that already has solid graded stakes form is Sea Wizard who was also in the Hopeful Stakes and finished a couple of lengths behind Seven Magician. Prior to that he had won two of his previous three starts and could still be progressing.

Apart from these two proven graded stakes performers we have some very unexposed horses here, and Sol Oriens is one of those. He opened his account on debut at Tokyo over 1800 meters and now gets a stretchout in distance, which looks likely to suit this son of Kitasan Black with plenty of stamina on the dams side.

The other one with an unbeaten record and is Champagne Color who is now two from two after breaking the maiden first time and then following up in a minor stakes race next time. This is tougher with the step up the class ladder.

Savona does not quite have the profile of his previously mentioned foes and only managed to break the maiden tag on the third attempt last time. However, that came over todays trip and he showed improved form on that stretchout in distance.

Silver Duke is one of the more experienced runners here with four starts to his name and after breaking the maiden tag on his second start, his last two runs in graded stakes company have seen him grab a slice of the purse money. He was a good fourth last time with a closing effort over a mile, so this extra quarter of a mile looks to give plenty of upside.

Keisei Hai Odds & Betting Pick

Sea WizardK.Miura+770
Omega Rich ManY.Ishikawa+6840
Sol OriensT.Yokoyama+540
Silver DukeT.Bachelot+680
Silver SpadeY.Yoshida+2220
Seven MagicianC.Lemaire+150
Champagne ColorK.Tosaki+190

An unusually small field for a graded stakes race, but a clear standout on the form is SEVEN MAGICIAN who looks the likely favorite here and should prove very tough to beat.

Of the others, then both Sol Oriens and Champagne Color are trying to keep unbeaten records intact and it is the latter who could well give the likely favorite the most to do.

Silver Duke’s form is rock solid and he should be in the mix and will be tough to keep off the board.

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