About the Japan Cup
Established to test Japanese talent against foreign challenge, the Japan Cup (held at 223,000 capacity Tokyo Racecourse) had its inaugural running in 1981. With a purse of ¥864m, and with hundreds of thousands of spectators in attendance, entrants are by invitation only. Foreign runners rack up bonuses when they compete in a series of international contests, making this one of the world's richest races. Prix de l'Arc winner Alpinista won't be making the trip to Asia, after being retired in Newmarket earlier this month. But host of European raiders will, however, be taking on local talent... all at 15:40 local time (06:40 GMT) on Sunday.
The foreign raiders
Grand Prix de Paris winner Onesto (right) will be flying in from France, where he's trained in Chantilly by Fabrice Chappet. Onesto finished mid field in the Arc, but that came after an impressive second place in the Irish Champions Stakes, behind Luxembourg, at Leopardstown. He'll be ridden on Sunday by Christophe Lemaire, who moved to Japan from France some years ago, serving as their leading jockey for five consecutive years. Italian challenge comes from Gianluca Bietolini's Grand Glory, who had a fifth in this race last year. Elsewhere, Deauville native Stephane Wattel puts forward Simca Mille, and German trainer Peter Schiergen enters the unbeaten Tunnes, who went two from two in the German St. Leger and Grosser Preis von Bayern this year.
The native defenders
Shahryar (right) is a bookie's favourite. This brown colt by Deep Impact (the 2006 Japan Cup winner) secured the Dubai Sheema Classic in March, following success in last year's Japanese Derby. Trained by Hideaki Fujiwara, he'll have Cristian Demuro onboard. This year's Japanese Derby fourth, though, Danon Beluga, looks hot on his heels. That race, of course, was won by Do Deuce, who won't be present at the weekend, following a disappointing second last in the Arc de Triomphe. Elsewhere, British riders Tom Marquand and Ryan Moore will be getting involved this year. Marquand is working the winter in Japan with his wife, Hollie Doyle, while Moore will be flying in to ride lightly raced Vela Azul.