The death of champion Japanese galloper Oguri Cap last week revived memories of the 1989 Japan Cup won by New Zealand mare Horlicks.
Known as the “Grey Monster” in his racing prime, Oguri Cap was put down aged 25 after sustaining a broken leg in his paddock at Yushun Stallion Station in Hokkaido. From humble beginnings, Oguri Cap was instrumental in buoying the biggest boom in Japanese horseracing since the halcyon days of super horse Haiseiko in the 1970s.
Oguri Cap won 10 of his first 12 starts on the NAR provincial circuit before stepping up to JRA-level racing in 1988. From his debut at Hanshin in May that year, he was almost unbeatable against racing’s elite. The winning streak was broken when he was runner-up in the Japan Cup won by Horlicks.
Oguri Cap bowed out of racing with a memorable victory in the 1990 Arima Kinen at Nakayama. He attracted a record crowd of 177,779 and gave them a day to remember. The Grey Monster closed quickly in the straight and the crowd went wild when he charged home to defeat Mejiro Ryan. It was a fitting end to a lasting legacy.
Oguri Cap (Dancing Cap – White Narubi by Silver Shark) was owned by Shunsuke Kondo and stood at Yushun Stallion Station until he was pensioned from stud duty in 2007.
The 1989 Japan Cup was the high point of an illustrious racing career for Horlicks. She won 17 races overall and her other Group 1 victories included the 1989 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington when she defeated an all-star cast headlined by Vo Rogue and Super Impose.
Horlicks (Three Legs – Malt by Moss Trooper) was raced by Hawkes Bay owner-breeder Graham de Gruchy and was trained by Dave O’Sullivan. She was ridden by Lance O’Sullivan in the Japan Cup and clocked a blistering 2.22.20s for the 2400 metres.
Horlicks foaled G1 Melbourne Cup winner Brew and G2 Avondale Guineas winner Bubble who were both by Cambridge Stud champion Sir Tristram. Her Maroof filly Latte foaled G1 AJC Derby winner Fiumicino (Zabeel).
Horlicks is 26 and in retirement at Cambridge Stud. She was pensioned after foaling a One Cool Cat colt in 2006. Registered as Tiger, he is part owned by de Gruchy and Riccarton trainer Terri Rae and was last seen running third in a Timaru maiden in May.