Lord Kanaloa’s exceptional daughter Almond Eye has won the G1 Japan Cup after dominating the Fillies’ Triple Crown, comprising the 1000 Guineas and Oaks equivalents. Now her intrepid trainer Sakae Kunieda has his eyes set on the Gr.1 Dubai Turf crown with a potential date with hat-trick-seeking Enable in this year’s renewal of The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Ten Furlong’s speaks to Japan’s top conditioner Mr Sakae Kunieda in an exclusive Dubai World Cup interview:
Q: There are many reasons for connections to seek a victory in the world’s richest race meeting. However, what does winning on Dubai World Cup night mean to you?
A: Currently, race meetings are held all around the world. Winning overseas major races has massive implications for me. Also, it is epoch-making.
Q: To compete at the highest level, passion is paramount. Passion is also defined by values such as continuously moving forward, innovating, and improving. Are these the values by which you see your passion played out in real life?
A: Yes, these are the values I think are important. In order to keep those values and succeed in this world, I would say both humans and horses need to be physically and mentally healthy. If they are, they can keep working passionately.
Q: What was the first leadership lesson you learnt in racing?
A: What I learned is (that) neither horses nor people think in this way.
Q: How would you design a truly commercial horse, if you had a way to do so?
A: From the viewpoint of raising a strong horse the most important thing is the mental aspect. In order to get a good result in a big race, mental strength is necessary and I am constantly aware of that.
Q: When you started racing your horses in the truly iconic races in this world, from those first battles which ones (s) do you remember the most?
A: I am not sure this is the answer you would like to listen to, but when it comes to my most memorable race was Japanese Oaks which was held at Tokyo racecourse in 2010. My Apapane won the race, but it was declared a dead heat with another horse, Saint Emilion. Apapane got the fillies’ Triple Crown title later.
Apapane (birth of date: Apr. 20, 2017, Sire: Kingkamehameha, Dam: Salty Bid)
Q: Who is the biggest influence in your life?
A: It’s Mr. Kazuo Fujisawa, JRA trainer, who is one of the major opinion leaders in horse racing society in Japan. He obtained JRA trainers license earlier than I and have a great deal of experience. For example, he learned a lot about horses, horse philosophy, theory and so on, while he worked for an English trainer in the U.K before getting JRA trainers license. I respect him.
Q: How did you get into racing and what would say is the best part of your job?
A: I was originally a huge fan of horse racing. That is why, when I graduated from a university (as a veterinarian), I made up my mind to join the horse racing world. What intrigues me most in horse racing is the fact that it is a blood sport (i.e. a sport which has a high significance to racing excellence derived from genetics). Also, I have been so excited to see lots of talented thoroughbred horses in the world competing with each other.
Q: And finally, what or who inspires you to struggle continuously and raise the bar?
A: I have received great encouragement from other trainers and my team members who are working hard every day, aiming at the top in the horse racing world. I think this had led to an improvement in my personal awareness.
Published In Dubai World Cup Gold Souvenir 2019
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