Kitasan Black set to spearhead Arc de Triomphe mission
Horse of the Year Kitasan Black is set to be given the chance to end his country's lengthy pursuit of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe crown in the autumn.
Twice a Grade 1 winner last year, the five-year-old will sidestep a trip to Meydan for the Dubai Sheema Classic with connections instead plotting a domestic campaign prior to a trip to France.
"We have the same plan for him as the last year," said trainer Hisashi Shimizu. "I want the Japanese fans to see him in Japanese racing. Yes, his target would be the Arc in the fall but before that, we have to be at the top of Japan in the spring."
Another with the Arc on the radar is Satono Diamond, who got the better of Kitasan Black in the Grade 1 Arima Kinen on Christmas Day.
"We have decided that the goal of his racing career was winning the Arc de Triomphe before his debut," said trainer Hajime Satomi. "His first target will be the Tenno Sho in the spring."
Makahiki made the trip to Chantilly last October, finishing 14th, and a return now looks unlikely with trainer Yasuo Tomomichi aiming for domestic top level prizes.
Ryan Moore will head to Japan to partner him in the Grade 2 Kyoto Kinen on February 12.
Real Steel was steered to Dubai Turf victory by Moore and a defence of that crown is on the cards, with a warm up race in the Grade 2 Nakayama Kinen beforehand.
Vivlos, last year's Shuka Sho winner, will also head to that race, while the Hong Kong Vase winner Satono Crown looks set for a tilt at the Dubai Sheema Classic, in which his stablemate Duramente was defeated by Postponed last year. Sounds Of Earth could also represent Japan in the race.