Four NAR meetings in Japan on Wednesday with Himeji, Kasamatsu, Kochi and Urawa the hosts. The 12-race card at Urawa spearheads the day's action with the 1500m Conditions event highlighting the meeting with the fillies racing for over $370 000 AUD.
Himeji Race 5 - #2 Bellagio Masaki
Siding with the Kazuya Sakamoto-trained Bellagio Masaki to get the job done for us at Himeji. The four-year-old entire returned in solid order here at the latest despite not being able to pay the punters, finishing half a length away from the winner. Stripping fitter second-up where he boasts a healthy record, he should be able to utilise the low draw and settle ahead of his immediate threat Key Pirates and prove too tough to catch in the run home.
Kasamatsu Race 2 - #5 Nazar Boncugu
Looking to strike early at Kasamatsu in race two with Nazar Boncugu. The four-year-old has enjoyed the change of scenery under his new trainer Masaharu Fujita, running into the minor placings in his last two. In-form rider Shoya Hozono sticking is another positive, boasting an impressive 28% winning strike rate from his last 50 engagements. Expect Hozono to settle his mount in a prominent position and have plenty to offer when they straighten.
Kochi Race 8 - #3 Cosmo Imperium
Heading to one of the better races on the Kochi card for the best play, where I've landed on Cosmo Imperium to knock off the in-form and heavy market favourite Herrschaft. The six-year-old left a positive impression in his stable debut for Mamoru Tanaka and can continue to improve third-up where he's won before. The son of Transcend will once again get a pleasant surprise when he looks around the yard at his opposition, having tackled much more talented types in Allowance grade in previous preparations. The rise in distance should suit and I'm expecting class to prevail.
Urawa 8 - #2 Kitano Zoonaqua
In what looks a competitive match-race between Kitano Zoonaqua and the resuming Tomono Crystal with two of the jurisdictions leading riders engaged; Takayuki Yano and Tsubasa Sasagawa riding the respective mounts, I've landed on the former. The four-year-old filly returned with a bang over the track and trip at the latest when stretching out nicely to get the verdict. She has been kept on the fresh side for her second-up assignment with 37 days between runs and stays at a journey she boasts a terrific record over. Tomono Crystal will have to work overtime to take up her usual position out in front, while our selection looks to get the perfect cart into the race from barrier two. Expect her to be too strong over the concluding stages.