Pride In Outstanding Japanese Results For World-Traveller Matsuda
22 February 2023
22 February 2023 - Masafumi Matsuda is defending a perfect record in the Middle East as he prepares Crown Pride towards an attempt at The Saudi Cup.
Many Japanese racing fans still remember the memorable moment of the Dubai World Cup in 2011 as their representative Victoire Pisa brought their first victory in the UAE’s keynote contest.
The race was run two weeks after the Great Kanto earthquake devastated their nation and the Japanese stable staff who heard the tragic news in Dubai made polo shirts with their national flag and the word 'Hope' printed on the shoulder as a sign of unity with their countrymen and women.
Among those work riders was Matsuda, who returned to Dubai 11 years later as assistant trainer to Koichi Shintani. His colt Crown Pride would become only the second Japanese-trained winner of the UAE Derby, covering extra ground to hit the front at the top of the stretch but scoring in style.
And so with Matsuda two-from-two in Dubai, he now has two chances to claim an identical streak in his first visit to Saudi Arabia. Crown Pride has been winless since the UAE Derby but has been performing consistently at the top level of Japan’s middle-distance dirt races, most recently finishing a neck second in the Grade 1 Champions Cup at Chukyo.
Shintani also trains a smart individual in Remake, who takes part in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint presented by Sports Boulevard. Coincidently, Remake’s sire Lani was the only other Japanese-trained horse to win the UAE Derby back in 2016.
Asked why his horses perform so outstandingly overseas, Masafumi said: "I like communicating with riders or horse connections from many different countries.
"I know my horses well but regarding track condition or character, local riders or riders who are travelling around the world have better knowledge than I do. I like talking to them to synergise their advice with my skill as a rider."
Matsuda is also the man on board during his two horses during training and assessed their chances.
"Crown Pride has plenty of speed as well as a big stride, which I think are necessary assets to run well on the dirt at King Abdulaziz Racecourse," he said. "Remake won the [Grade 3] Capella Stakes back home in a very impressive way.
"He is already a top-class sprinter, but his peak is still yet to come. I am on the way to making some adjustments to his way of running to fit the style of the track."
Matsuda has plenty of support back home from his 10-year-old son Kosei as he continues to clock up the air miles. His father sounds quietly confident that a famous winning streak could be extended on Saturday.