The Japanese fan-favourite Kitasan Black, ridden by jockey Yutaka Take, ended his outstanding career with a victory in the G1 Arima Kinen on December 24. More than 100,000 racegoers gathered trackside at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan to enjoy Kitasan Black’s final racecourse appearance and watch him capture his seventh Grade 1 title. The victory boosted his career earnings to almost 1.877 billion yen ($17.4m/€14m), making the five-year-old horse the highest earner in Japanese racing history. Shortly after, Kitasan Black was announced as the Horse of the Year in Japan for the second consecutive year. He will now enter stud at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.
Kitasan Black – signs off in style
A little horse with a big HEART
The aptly named racehorse Heart to Heart showed that he has got a big heart (and not just on his forehead) when capturing his first Grade 1 victory at Gulfstream Park in Florida, USA, on February 10. The popular racehorse scored his first graded stakes success in 2014 and has since then tallied up another eight Grade 2 or 3 wins, but this was his first triumph at the highest level after several heart-breaking near-misses.
Out on a High
When the globe-trotting Highland Reel crossed the line in front in the G1 Hong Kong Vase on December 10, he brought an end to an extraordinary career that has spanned over four seasons. The victory also made him the top European-trained earner of all time. Owned by Coolmore and trained by the legendary Irishman Aidan O’Brien, Highland Reel has captured the hearts of racing fans in seven different countries. He is estimated to have travelled more than 180,000 kilometres during his career, making four trips to Hong Kong, three to the USA, three to France, two to the UAE, one to Australia, and many to the UK, from his base in Country Tipperary, Ireland. Highland Reel now starts his second career as a stallion at Coolmore Stud in Ireland.
Thunder & Lightning strike at Meydan
Half-siblings Thunder Snow and Winter Lightning starred on the fifth day of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan in Dubai, UAE. Winter Lightning proved that she is a filly for the future when galloping to victory in the Listed UAE 1,000 Guineas. A couple of hours later, it was her brother Thunder Snow’s turn to visit the winners’ enclosure following a narrow win in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge. The two winners are both out of Godolphin’s mare Eastern Joy. Thunder.
A Prince is Born!
Beholder, the winner of four Eclipse Awards, eleven Grade 1’s including a trio of Breeders’ Cup races, and more than $6 million in prize money, delivered her first foal on January 23. The outstanding racehorse retired to Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, USA after her photo-finish victory over Songbird in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The foal is a strong, bay colt by Uncle Mo, and Spendthrift Farm announced that Beholder has taken motherhood perfectly in her stride.
Dressed for success
Gun Runner lived up to favouritism in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest horse race, on January 27. Despite a difficult draw, the American Horse of The Year pulled clear of his rivals to win the $16 million-dollar event at Gulfstream Park in Florida, USA. His Hall of Fame-trainer Steve Asmussen cheered the horse on dressed in a tan-coloured suit that has been his lucky garment for the past eleven years. It is both sagged and bagged, but it has been worn by the legendary trainer for big-race wins by some of the country’s best racehorses including Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, and Untapable. The Pegasus World Cup victory marked the finale of Gun Runner’s career, and the six-time Grade 1 winner is now off to a stud career in Kentucky. The tan suit, however, is not expected to retire anytime soon. Gun Runner wins The Pegasus World Cup.