Rey De Oro won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in 2017. Photo by the JRA.

Japan Cup 2019: Kazuo Fujisawa speaks to Hutchi’s Honkers about Rey De Oro

Jason Tan




Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa hopes a two-month lay-off can help one-time Derby hero Rey De Oro return to his best in Sunday’s Group 1 Japan Cup, a race that is likely to be his career swansong.

Fujisawa’s quirky colt was considered the prince of Japanese racing after a win in the 2017 Tokyo Yushun and victory in the following year’s Tenno Sho (Autumn) had some considering him as a future king, but the son of King Kamehameha hasn’t won since.

Three disappointing runs this year have put a further dent in Rey De Oro’s stud value and Fujisawa elected to send the five-year-old to the farm for rest after an unplaced effort in late September.

“I had expected him to do a bit better in the Sankei Sho All Comers but, unfortunately, he didn’t have much left just before the finish,” Fujisawa said of the last-start effort at Nakayama.

“He didn’t do too well in Dubai and his results weren’t good in the Takarazuka Kinen either and that may have affected him last out too. After the All Comers, he went to the farm to get over any fatigue and, when it got cooler, I heard that his condition had improved. He’s been back at the training center now for about a month and I think he’s showing that improvement.”

“He’s had a number of races where he didn’t get very good results, but this time when he returned to the training center he was in good shape. Last week, his movement looked quite good and although his time wasn’t that fast on Wednesday morning (November 20), I just wanted him to catch his training partner just before the finish line and he looked good and eager to run. He definitely has improved. And the jockey (William Buick) told me the horse looked to be in good condition.”

Buick was impressed with Rey De Oro’s work at Miho, saying the entire “was very much on his toes”.

“His responses to my signals were very sharp and he felt extremely good,” he said. “Mr. Fujisawa told me about the horse’s condition and said that because he was ready he would leave the work up to me. I rode just to get a feel for him.”

“I’m very aware that Rey de Oro has been a very strong horse, that he won the Derby and the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and that he ran second in the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix), and I do think that we can expect good things from him this time as well.”

Fujisawa believes a return to Tokyo – the scene of his two top-level triumphs – is an obvious positive for Rey De Oro.

“He debuted at Tokyo and has always gotten good results at Tokyo,” the trainer said. “I’m hoping he can somehow do his best this time as well. I think he’s much better and much stronger now than he was two years ago when he finished second here.

“The Tokyo 2400m has a long stretch and it’s not that difficult a race. I have confidence in William Buick and in asking him to ride. It’s an unforgiving course, one that doesn’t leave itself open to excuses, so I’m hoping he’ll do his best. Rey de Oro really did well as a 2-year-old. And, he’s won both the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and I’m hoping he’ll do his best again at this same venue.”

“I’d like to thank all the fans who have supported Rey de Oro for a long time. I think this will be his last year racing. He’s going to the race in good shape and I want him to do his best.”

The Japan Cup will jump at 3.40pm local time / 5.40pm AEDT.