One of the great rewards of an involvement in the art of racehorse breeding is the places it takes you to and the people you meet.
In our travels, Cheryl and I have visited most of the great farms in the major breeding countries of the world, but the one place which had eluded us thus far, was Japan. So the invitation from the Asian Racing Federation to manage one of their Plenary sessions, was a welcome opportunity to complete the cycle.
In August, our son Chris completed a two and a half year stint at the home of Japan’s Champion Breeders, Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, so that was the obvious target of our initial intentions. The Yoshida family are third generation legends of the Japanese breeding scene, though the man largely credited with propelling the country into the forefront of international competition was the current team’s father, Zenya. His prominence arose from his anticipation of the internationalisation of racing and was based on his intrepid forays into the Keeneland yearling market, where he purchased his famous foundation stallion, NORTHERN TASTE (by Northern Dancer) a French Group One winner of the Prix de la Foret, and eleven times Champion Sire of Japan.
The greatest compliment to their father’s founding achievement, came when the three brothers Teruya, Katsumi and Heruya (in order of age) secured the American Champion SUNDAY SILENCE at a time when the Americans had pretty much spurned him, and if it was possible, SUNDAY SILENCE proceeded to outperform even NORTHERN TASTE, reshaping the affairs of Japanese and international breeding.
I remember a chat I had with “Terry” (Teruya) at this same conference in India in 1995, when he told me that the rise of Japanese breeding (and in particular Shadai Farm, which he’d inherited from his father) revolved around the acquisition of horses which had excelled at 2400m (which suits the local programme), when breeders around the world had largely rejected these horses for being too stamina oriented.
The Japanese don’t forget easily, and history reminded them that British and European breeding had thrived on the back of these very horses, so here was an opportunity which led to the purchase of SUNDAY SILENCE and the two “Arc” heroes, TONY BIN and CARROLL HOUSE, while REAL SHADAI and BRIAN’S TIME represented still more stamina from the ROBERTO line.