International flavour to Jungle Juice Cup

Rodney Northam has never met or spoken to the Japanese owner of Prior Baron who represents the trainer’s first starter in the iconic Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock.

However, come Tuesday, Northam hopes to communicate good news back to Masashi Kobayashi, an avid breeder and racehorse owner who controls a large paper manufacturing company in Japan.
Prior Baron will be ridden by apprentice Vicky Schubert in the 1350m event that commenced in 1981 and attracts a boisterous crowd of 5,000-plus annually.
The five-year-old gelding only needs luck in running to be thereabouts in the finish, Scone-based Northam said.
“The horse has done super. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Northam has trained several horses for Mr Kobayashi, who has had strong links to Australian racing for more than a decade and won the 1996 VRC Oaks with My Brightia.
Mr Kobayashi’s Australian interests are controlled by Satomi Oka, the Japanese representative at Williams Inglis.
“I’ve never met Mr Kobayashi, all my dealings have been through Satomi (Oka),” Northam said.
“Originally Prior Baron was supposed to go to Singapore but he was a box walker and they kept him here.
“He’s been a consistent little horse, honest, and he’s very easy to work with.
“When you look at his recent form it’s good. He won well at Canterbury then was a bit stiff not to win at Tamworth, he got caught wide but kept coming at them.
“He’s only a lightly-framed horse. I don’t do a lot with him and he’s never had a problem, soreness issues whatever, throughout his career.
“He likes a bit of speed on to perform best and he should get that at Cessnock.”
Prior Baron, a winner of seven from 29 starts, finished 1-1/2 lengths fifth to Hot Gemini over 1200m at Tamworth on June 21 and prior to his Canterbury win on June 3 was a most unlucky fourth to Cruzado over 1300m at Scone on May 15.
The Albert Stapleford-trained Cruzado, last year’s Jungle Juice Cup winner, is back to defend the crown with Steve Parr in the saddle.
Local hero Robert Thompson has been booked for the Guy Walter-trained Mr Incredible. Thompson has seven Cup wins to his credit, the last on Beaucastel in 1994.
Thompson piloted the Warwick Farm based Walter’s first Group One winner – Sharscay in the 1995 Canterbury Guineas.
Topweight Ollie Vollie has been withdrawn with trainer Sue Grills to concentrate on the John Carlton Cup on Thursday and $130,000 Ramornie Handicap at Grafton on July 15.

By Tony White