Trainer Tomohito Ozeki expects Through Seven Seas to do Japan proud in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.
Japan currently boasts the top-rated horse in the world in Equinox, a four-time winner at the highest level who easily accounted for Arc contender Westover in the Sheema Classic at Meydan back in March.
He beat Through Seven Seas by a neck when the pair clashed in the Takarazuka Kinen, but connections had already ruled out an Arc trip for their superstar by that point.
Japan has come close to Arc victory in the past, with El Condor Pasa memorably caught by Montjeu with the post in sight back in 1999 while Nakayama Festa was beaten just a head by Workforce in 2010. Deep Impact and dual runner-up Orfevre were two other giants of the Japanese racing scene to line up in Paris.
Titleholder was well fancied last year but failed to shine as the rain poured down, with similar comments applying to Chrono Genesis the year before and Ozeki thinks ground conditions have now become a factor in the decision-making process, with the race usually staged on testing ground.
Ozeki said: “There’s a lot of thought going on in Japan at the moment in the sense of which horse could adapt to the ground in the Arc – that is the major thing people think about. It was the same for Through Seven Seas, the owners and breeders sat together for long discussions before they decided to come here.
“Personally I believe at the moment the mare is the best horse the Japanese could have sent over to run in the Arc.
“Obviously for the last three or four years Japanese horses have found it very difficult to run in the Arc because the ground has been very soft, even heavy last year. This mare could adapt to soft ground but as conditions are expected to be better, I’m not worried about it.”
The five-year-old Through Seven Seas has yet to strike in Group One company and has not run since that June defeat at the hands of Equinox, but Ozeki retains plenty of faith and thinks she is on an upward curve.
He said: “She was quite tiny, quite skinny, she didn’t eat a lot and she was a bit of a difficult character, but has matured and started to put on weight. Last summer she had a long stretch without running and that did her a lot of good. She has just grown stronger as the year has progressed.
“She is a mare that needs a little bit of time between her races, probably longer than other horses, so if you look at the time between her Grade Three win and her Grade One run, it is the same time period to the Arc and I think that is ideal for her.
“For every trainer the Arc is a big target in your career. It’s usually a target that is very far away, but now it’s here and I’m finding myself with this race in front of me and I have to be me on the day. But it would mean a lot to me as a trainer.”
Christophe Lemaire takes the ride on the daughter of Dream Journey and he too would relish chalking up an inaugural win for Japan.
He said: “As a jockey you dream about winning the Arc, for me especially with a Japanese horse as you can imagine considering my history with Japan, it would mean a lot to win the Arc with a Japanese horse.
“It would be such an event if I were to win the Arc with a Japanese horse, so I’m going to give everything I have.”
The mare enjoyed a spin on Wednesday morning and while Lemaire was not in the plate, he was delighted with what he saw and feels Through Seven Seas certainly merits her place.
He added: “I saw the Through Seven Seas that I recognised – she had her usual good, big stride. I thought she was very fit and this morning she worked on soft ground and I thought she was very fluid in her action and she worked with a lot of power, so I was very satisfied with what I saw.
“When I won the Grade Three I was quite impressed because she actually won very easily and I could feel that she had improved a lot since last year. She then confirmed that form when she finished second to Equinox, so she has developed into a Group One contender and certainly has the right to run in the Arc and produce a good performance.”