By Ray Hickson
Jockey Glyn Schofield is hoping former top sprinter Japonisme can turn back the clock and produce something like his best at Rosehill on Saturday.
Two years ago Japonsime was Australia’s second highest rated three-year-old, behind Exosphere, having won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes and Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint, plus three Group 1 placings against older horses in the 2015-16 season.
But that Arrowfield win in March 2016 was his last success and Schofield, who rode the gelding to his Group 1 victory, admits he needs a win.
“He was high quality Group 1 performer but he seems to have lost his way,’’ Schofield said.
“His form suggests he needs to improve. He's at the crossroads and we need him to turn around from the road to nowhere.’’
Trainer Chris Waller is trying something new with Japonisme stepping him up in distance to the Group 3 $150,000 Festival Stakes (1500m), he’ll also carry a tongue tie and cross over nose band.
Japonisme's trial win at Warwick Farm – November 21
A kind observer would give him a pass mark for his sixth in the Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury third-up but it’s no surprise he’s a $14 chance with TAB.
Schofield partnered the chestnut, now five, to what he hopes is a confidence boosting trial win over 1200m on November 21 and was pleased to see him find the line even if he had to ask for a bit of effort.
“He jumped and led under no pressure and was entitled to win,’’ he said.
“I'm glad that he won the trial. A little bit of rain would help him enormously and if he comes back to anywhere near his old form he just wins.’’
Schofield has a lot more confidence about the chances of promising Godolphin two-year-old Rheingau who has his second start in the Book Summer Hospitality Today Plate (1100m).
The son of Animal Kingdom ran third behind stablemate Dynamited and Secret Lady, an impressive winner last Saturday, three weeks ago and Schofield said he’ll learn a lot from the experience.
“He’s a nice horse, he was really green the first time out,’’ he said.
“I galloped him in between (his debut and this race) and he's really got a calm demeanour, doesn't feel precocious in any way but he has talent.
“He gets a nice run again, has a bit more race wariness now and he should be hard to beat.’’
Rheingau produced the second fastest last 600m, according to Punters Intel data, of 33.77 at his debut.
Don’t be surprised if Schofield opts to put Tactical Advantage on the pace from a tricky gate in the Listed $125,000 Starlight Stakes (1100m).
The four-year-old has been placed in both runs for Joe Pride, including a close second to Glenall two weeks ago whom he meets 1.5kg better off on Saturday.
“Brenton (Avdulla on Glenall) always had a neck on me but he felt like he was going to go through and win,’’ Schofield said.
“Joe seemed to think he has a bit to improve out of the run. Hopefully he has taken improvement and he will need to.
“He can bounce and land in a forward position so there's no worries from there.’’