Brochure - Tailor Made Travel


Brochure - Tailor Made Travel
By Keith Hillier
HOKKAIDO is Japan’s second largest island
and the most northern of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
It is almost the size of Ireland and has a comparable
population. It should be at the top of every traveller’s Bucket List.
Nothing can match the quality, range and freshness of the seafood
from the cold waters of the three seas that surround the island.
Scallops the size of potato cakes, crab, sea urchin, salmon, herring,
flounder, cod, squid, octopus, abalone and clams are bountiful.
Tourists flock to Hokkaido from Japan and around the world.
A popular way to sample the famous seafood is to visit one of a
collection of fish markets and maybe, just maybe, be adventurous
and try a rice bowl with toppings that include sea urchin, salmon roe,
squid or perhaps even one with the lot!
Hokkaido also is the home of Japan’s oldest brewing company,
Sapporo Beer, founded in 1876 and still made from the crystal clear
water that flows from snowcapped mountains. And, purely for
research purposes, you can learn about the amber ale and enjoy a
beer tasting at the Sapporo Beer Museum or a tasting bar at the
Sapporo factory.
But for those of us with a love for thoroughbred horses, Hokkaido is
promoted to “Must Do” status at the top of our Bucket List.
This, surely, is horse heaven! Last year 6887 foals were born in Japan
and 6728 of them were born in the prefecture of Hokkaido, meaning
that 97.7 per cent of Japanese-bred horses are Hokkaido-bred.
Rich volcanic soil, a cool and dry climate and space (the island has
22 per cent of Japan’s total land area) has rushed Hokkaido ahead of
one-time breeding areas near racecourses where the emphasis has
turned to training establishments.
Deep Impact/Shadai Stallion Station
Photo: Shadai Stallion Station
In Hokkaido there are more than 900 stud farms (there are less
than a hundred throughout the rest of Japan) with stallions, mares
and foals thriving on the lush vegetation flourishing in the rich
volcanic soil of an expansive countryside that also supports a
massive dairy industry producing about half of the country’s milk.
Hokkaido’s thoroughbred breeding farms are among the best in the
The dominance of Shadai Stallion Station can be measured by the
fact that is has the top seven Japanese sires of 2014 by money
earned – (in order) Deep Impact, King Kamehameha, Heart’s Cry,
Symboli Chris, Daiwa Major, Neo Universe and Manhattan Café.
Current headline act Deep Impact was bred at Northern Farm. He
was awarded Japanese Hall Of Fame entry with his race record of
seven Group1 wins including the Triple Crown (Satsuki Sho, Tokyo
Yushun and Kikuka Sho) and the 2006 Japan Cup.
With stake-earnings of about $AU14.5 million Deep Impact is
second on the list of all-time leading earners in Japanese racing
(on top with more than $18million is T.M.Opera O who won the
Japan Cup in 2000). Last year Deep Impact’s sons and daughters
Deep Impact winning the Arima Kinen.
earned about $AU67 million and helped him retain his position at
the top of the ladder as annual leading sire for the third
consecutive year after taking that title from King Kamehameha
who led the list in 2011-12.
Deep Impact is a delight to behold; a deep and shiny bay with a
white sock above his near-hind hoof and no white at all on his
near foreleg. He is as exciting just to look at as it was to see him
race. I want to see him again …even just one more time. He is my
favorite racehorse.
Last year’s yearling sales in Japan set a national record of 1526
yearlings sold. The average price was about $AU83, 000, which
dipped slightly from the previous year’s record average of $85K.
Northern Farm also bred the 2006 Emirates Melbourne Cup
winner Delta Blues, the first (and still only) Japanese horse to win
our most famous race and provided the quinella with stablemate
Pop Rock
Katsumi Yoshida, who took over and rebranded “Northern Farm”
when his father’s Shadai Farm was divided between his three sons
after his death in 1993, believed that buying quality mares at sales
in Europe, USA and Australia was a major factor in the establishment of a breeding operation. Success came quickly and Northern
Farm bred the winners of almost all major races in Japan and
some of the big ones in USA, England and Dubai while last year it
added the Caulfield Cup (Admire Rakti) to the international list.
Northern Farm continues to be extended in land size and horse
numbers with more than 700 mares as boarders. Its added
features these days include a training centre for two-year-olds with
a 1200 metre straight Tapeta track and a 900 metre uphill straight
with a woodchip wood chip surface.
There is also an indoor track to assist in the development of
two-year-olds in cold winter months.
Most of the major breeding farms of Hokkaido are conveniently
within a 20-30 minute drive from the new Chitose Airport, the
largest international and domestic airport in Hokkaido.
So Hokkaido, so wonderfully green and clean, is the central point
of this thriving and now global giant thoroughbred racing industry,
yet only a few international visitors to Japan get the privilege of
visiting the world’s most envied nursery!
The 2015 VRC Hokkaido and the Japan Cup Tour will depart
on November 22. Contact VRC Racing Tours on (03) 9909 7224
for further details.