Below is copy for the JRA's news conference of yesterday morning (Japan time). The last comment, made by Jonathan Sheppard, is interesting considering "Justy" drew the 7 hole, which is two to the inside of the center of the pack! Go Justy!
JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
Owner/Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard
Q: What is the major reason for your participation in the Japan Cup? Since when have you included JC in your rotation?
T: I’d been here before a few years ago with Anticipation and very much liked the experience. I met the representatives from JRA in Saratoga and they mentioned a couple of good fillies that had and I said there were going to run in the Breeder’s Cup and it wouldn’t be very good timing but I mentioned that I had this other horse, Just As Well, that could be an option if he was approved. At that time, he was not one of the primary selections but he was put on an alternate list. Of course, I didn’t find out (that he was selected) until actually after the Breeder’s Cup because two of the horses picked ahead of him were running in the Breeder’s Cup—Einstein and Gio Ponti. I guess they declined and left a spot open for us and I accepted it.
Q: How would you rate his current condition out of 100%?
T: I feel that Just As Well is coming into this race in very good condition. Because he didn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup, he’s fresh. He’s put on a little bit of weight since he’s been here. I watched him work this morning on the turf course and I was very happy with the way he went. He’s had a fairly busy season but as I say, he had a little bit of a break prior coming here and hopefully he’s in 95 percent—as good as he can be. Whether that’s good enough, I don’t know. I know you have some good horses in this country.
Q: What is your impression of the race track at Tokyo? Are there any contenders that you regard as rivals?
T: I like the track very much. I was on the turf course this morning and it seemed to be in a very good condition. It’s a very beautiful track and you people have done a wonderful job renovating the
facilities and the grandstand. Regarding the rivals, I must admit that I’ve just arrived here last night and haven’t had a chance to go through the form of your local horses. But I have a lot of respect for the Japanese horses, having being here before. I’m sure they are going to be very tough. And of course, you have some good horses also coming from abroad—Conduit is a very good horse, I saw him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf— and the two American horses are pretty nice, too. So I think it’s a very competitive race.
Q: What is the strongest point of this horse? What are your expectations for the race?
T: I think the fact that he finishes races strongly. He has good stamina. He doesn’t have very quick acceleration, takes him a little bit of time to build up his top speed. And I like the fact that it’s a longer stretch run here at Tokyo Racecourse than he’s used to in America, because it gives him more time reach his full stride—I think that should suit him.
Q: Do you think he’s on the upgrade as a six-year-old?
T: Yes I do. He’s had a very interrupted career as a younger horse. So I think he ran three or four times as a three-year-old and not again until he was five—so he was much less experienced than most of the horses he was running against. And it took him a few race, not only to himself to figure out how to handle the better company he was running against and also perhaps for me as his trainer trying to figure out what his best distance was and how he should be best ridden. Originally, he was rather anxious in the beginning of his races and we had to teach him to settle and to relax. We gradually built up—as he learned to do that—the distance of his races and now he’s had a couple of back-to-back mile and a half races and that seems to be a good distance for him now.
Q: Where will he be coming from the back of the field off the pace on Sunday?
T: I would expect him to be certainly not more forward, say, than the middle of the field—it’s a big field—opefully, he won’t be way in the very back but he’ll definitely off the pace early on.
Today’s training (on the turf course):
- cantered, gradually cantered strongly appr .2,000m, galloped on stretch (turf course)
(exercised from 8:20 to 8:31, ridden by Barry Wiseman)
“The horse’s condition is good, the latter part of the breeze was especially good.”
(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman)
“It would be nice if his starting gate is in a inner gate from the middle.”
(Comments taken from Jonathan Shepard)