Lessons learned more than 30 years ago may help Japanese trainer Yoshito Yahagi take out the Caulfield Cup.
Yahagi spent time in Australia before becoming a trainer in his home country and learned from two of Australia’s premier conditioners, Bart Cummings and Neville Begg, describing it as an invaluable experience.
Yahagi arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday morning and headed to the Werribee quarantine centre to see his charge Bande, the $8 second favourite in Saturday’s $3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).
“I came here to study horse racing,” Yahagi said through an interpreter.
“What I learnt was the recovery and how to make a horse relax. For us we cannot race that close in between like from one week to next as you can do here.”
Yahagi said he liked what he saw when he inspected Bande following his arrival from Japan.
“He hadn’t changed. That’s a good sign,” Yahagi said.
Bande had his final hit-out for the Caulfield Cup on Wednesday morning over 1000m, running his last 400m in around 23.5 seconds.
No stone has been left unturned in the stayer’s bid to win the Cup with Bande having a look at Caulfield last Saturday, including a tour of the raceday stalls, the parade ring and the winning post.
He walked in and out of the barrier stalls in practice on Tuesday in a feel of the Australian gates and then had the blinkers applied for his final gallop.
“In the final gallop we always put on the blinkers,” Yahagi said.
“It’s a simulation for racing.”
Yahagi described barrier 10 as perfect although he was a little perplexed at Bande’s weight of 56.5kg (originally 54.5kg before weights were raised 2kg at acceptance).
“He doesn’t win a Group race yet (but he) carry like a Group horse weight,” Yahagi said.
“I think it is unfair by the handicapper. We are not happy about that weight (but) we think it is possible for him to win this race.”
Yahagi said he did not know the ability and form of his rivals in the Caulfield Cup but said he could line his horse up with fellow Japanese galloper Admire Rakti.
“I think Admire Rakti and Bande are of similar ability but we are a little bit lighter (weight) than Admire Rakti,” Yahagi said.
“I think we have a chance for this race.”
Christophe Lemaire will ride Bande with 58kg topweight Admire Rakti, to be ridden by Zac Purton, the third elect at $10 in a market in which Lucia Valentina remains the firm $4.40 favourite.