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Kohei Matsuyama happy to forego Group One rides at home to partner ‘once-in-a-lifetime’

Japanese jockey Kohei Matsuyama did not think twice about making the trip to Hong Kong to ride super filly Daring Tact in Sunday’s QE II Cup, saying he is undaunted by the prospect of missing Group One rides while holed up in quarantine upon his return home.

As the only Japanese rider to make the trip to Hong Kong for Champions Day, Matsuyama finds himself in the “racing bubble” along with trainer Tomohito Ozeki and a number of grooms.

The four-year-old was a brilliant winner of the fillies’ triple crown last season, mirroring the feats of the great Almond Eye before going on to run third in the Japan Cup (2,400m) in November.

After being in the saddle for all seven of her starts to date, Matsuyama describes Daring Tact as the “horse of a lifetime”.

“It is hard to express how I feel about this filly but I am having such a valuable ride with her,” he said. “She is a once-in-a-lifetime horse.

“It was a very simple decision from me to come here. The experience I can have here is important for me and the horse, there was no choice to be made.

“We have to do quarantine when we go home. I will definitely miss some rides back home, it is Group One season there but it is worthwhile coming here to ride this filly in the QE II.”

With a winning cheque of HK$14.25 million, Matsuyama’s decision would be more than justified with a victory on Sunday.

Matsuyama – who sits third in the JRA jockeys’ premiership – is willing to forget Daring Tact’s first-up failure as a $1.40 favourite in the Group Two Kinko Sho (2,000m) last month, saying she was a victim of circumstances.

“In her last start, the track condition was a bit funny,” he said. “The day before there were showers and then on the day it was clearing out so the inside was drying up but the outside was still wet.

“It was an advantage for the front runners and the winner. I think she had some sort of an excuse that day.”

“I galloped her before we left Japan on Wednesday last week and she did very good work, I was very happy with how she was so she is in good condition.”

Looking to follow in the footsteps of previous QE II Cup winners Win Bright, Neorealism, Rulership and Eishin Preston, Matsuyama said he had sought out the likes of Yutake Take, Yuga Kawada and Christophe Lemaire for advice on how to ride Sha Tin.

“They are all saying it is a very fair track, there is not much bias so it is not a tricky track to ride,” he said.

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