Although the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association (JBBA) only came into being in September 1955, it has been the driving force behind what the Japanese bloodstock industry has achieved. JBBA works with domestic breeders to create horses that can succeed on the international stage.
Initially Tohoku and Kyushu were considered key breeding areas. However, as thoroughbred breeding became more important, the focus of the industry shifted to Hidaka in Hokkaido. The cool, dry climate and vast areas of land of this area, made it perfect for the raising of horses.
Nowadays, breeding is concentrated in Hokkaido, with around 95% of horses being produced there.
The JBBA organises a number of sales around Japan annually.
The Impact speaks to Mr. Goro Yokoya about the success of their Chiba Two Year Old Horses’ Sale and the forthcoming Kyushu Sale and Select Sale.
Q: When we look at the Chiba sale results in Deep Impact (JPN), King Kamehameha(JPN) and Lord Kanaloa (JPN) once again lead the rankings in terms of highest average price earned. Whom do you expect to lead the way in the next 5 years in Japan? A: Each year, the majority of the horses in the Chiba thoroughbred Sale are offered by member breeders of the local breeders’ organization in Chiba. These breeders are relatively large farms that breed many horses every year; as such, it is difficult to predict which sires will be mainstream in the years to come, and the same can be said of other sales in Japan as well. That said, it is quite likely that the popular sire lines in Japan will not change hugely in the next five years.
Q: Which sires and broodmare sires do you expect to lead the way in the upcoming Kyushu Sale and then later on the Select Sale? A: 18 of the 19 yearlings that will be offered in the Kyushu Sale are local Kyushu-breds, and of those, 10 are by Squirtle Squirt (Marquetry), so offspring of Squirtle Squirt will probably figure prominently in the results.
As for the Select Sale, the list of all lots to be offered has recently been announced, and although it is hard to say which of the represented sires might produce standout results, it’s probably reasonable to expect progeny of already popular and successful sires, headed by Deep Impact, to sell well.
Q: Unlike some other Asian countries, Japan is leading the way with Japanese-bred horses competing in the most prestigious races around the world. Is there an active interest in breeding horses for specific races? A: It is most kind of you to describe the achievements of Japanese horses in a positive light. In the past, when there weren’t many Japanese horses racing abroad, the (Gr.1) Japan Derby used to be considered by many to be the race to breed for, but with horses travelling internationally much more easily now, any race in the world can be a target. It is true that Japanese horses competing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe have received much attention in recent years, but you can expect Japanese horses to compete in any race in any country, including Dubai and Hong Kong.
Q: What do you think are the key factors which Japanese breeders pay the closest attention to when planning matings? How far-in-advance are they planned? A: Regardless of whether a mare is owned by the farm where she resides or is simply being boarded by a third-party owner, mare owners in Japan, like in any other part of the world, plan matings based on various factors including pedigree, conformation, racing and breeding records and stud fees. The time when mare owners decide on matings also varies from owner to owner, and there really isn’t a specific time of year that the plans are usually made.
Q: Similarly, what do Japanese buyers put the most emphasis on when making buying decisions? A: Like in any other part of the world, buyers in Japan each look for different things in a horse, so you can’t really generalize and name something specific that Japanese buyers particularly place emphasis on.
Q: Which are the highlight lots for the Kyushu Sale and why? A: As mentioned before, 10 of the 19 horses that will be in the Kyushu Sale are by Squirtle Squirt, so his progeny are sure to provide some highlights. Also, three sires -- Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway), To the World (King Kamehameha) and Love Is Boo Shet (Manhattan Cafe) -- represented in the sale have their first two-year-olds racing this year, so they should get some attention as well.
Q: From the leading proven Japanese sires, which sires would be considered underrated on a world stage? A: This is a really difficult question to answer. You might say that stallions that may be well-known in Japan but have not raced outside of the country tend to be overlooked and thus underrated internationally.
Q: Which sale garners the most international attention in your list of sales? A: As the notably high sale prices suggest, the JRHA Select Sale have always garnered particular attention from both Japanese and international buyers.