Over the past few years, Japanese horses have dominated many of the major international race meetings, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the number of Japanese runners gets larger and larger especially in recent years.
In 2023, 20 Japanese horses ran in Saudi Arabia in February, 27 horses competed in Dubai in March, two horses ran in Australia in April, four horses raced in Hong Kong in April, two horses ventured to the United States of America in May, four horses travelled to Korea in September, one horse ran in France in October, three more horses went to Australia in October and November, nine horses ran in the United States of America in November – and 14 more horses are making the trip over for the Hong Kong International Races on December 10 at Sha Tin.
This year, trainer Hideyuki Mori is making his first trip to Hong Kong since 1996.
In Japan, trainers are known as “Sensei”, a title of respect for their considerable achievements. “Mori Sensei” is a very international-minded trainer whose first overseas challenge was the Hong Kong International Cup in 1994, sending Fujiyama Kenzan, who finished fourth. Mori sent the seven-year-old horse back to the race in the following year and won the race for his first international winning achievement.
The 64-year-old Mori started his training yard at the Japan Racing Association in 1993. In his training career of 30 years, Mori has sent many of his trainees to the global stages. He made history in 1998 when he saddled Seeking The Pearl to victory in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest (1300m) at Deauville. He is a pioneer and continues to send his horses abroad year after year. His third triumph on the international stage was the Group 1 Prix de’l Abbaye de Longchamp (1000m) in 1999 with the American-bred Agnes World.
Mori is currently in charge of approximately 60 horses under his wing and his stable has more foreign-bred horses than Japanese-bred. Mori is well known for a world traveller not only as a trainer but also as an agent, as he joins the thoroughbred auctions in America every year.
“Japan is too expensive to purchase. I am able to get horses of similar quality for more affordable price with shipping cost,” said Mori.
He is a regular buyer at Keeneland and OBS, and since 2022 he has participated in Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale in August.
“I do not particular focus on a certain pedigree. I do not want to have a stereotype. I look for conformation of racehorse,” he said.
Mori’s four-year-old Jasper Krone has received an invitation for the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m). Purchased at the 2021 OBS March Sale for US$90,000 (approx. HK$701,761), Jasper Krone made his debut and won a newcomer race over 1200m at Niigata in August 2021.
This term, after he won the two lower-class races, he showed little in the G3 Hakodate Sprint Stakes (1200m) in June, however the colt showed dramatic changes and won the two following Group races in summer before finishing fourth in the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) in October. Jasper Krone traveled to America for running the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (1000m) but finished 12th last month.
“I and the owner have been thinking to send him to Hong Kong since this summer. After the Breeders’ Cup, he did not have any problem with his condition, and that was the reason I decided to send him over to Hong Kong,” Mori said.
“The level of horse racing in Hong Kong has been progressing a lot and the Hong Kong-trained horses run well overseas.”
Mori Sensei’s overseas challenge keeps going forward and looks for his second title in Hong Kong on Sunday, December 10 at the HK$118 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.