Japanese breeding is most readily associated in this part of the world with Deep Impact but that would be doing a disservice to Heart’s Cry, another son of Sunday Silence who stood with great success at the Shadai Stallion Station.

Granted, Heart’s Cry didn’t come close to threatening Deep Impact’s dominance, achieved much in the same way as Sunday Silence before him. Yet few stallions, certainly those who don’t shuttle, can boast to have achieved the same level of international prominence of Heart’s Cry. Prior to his death in 2021, he had sired Group/Grade 1 winners in Australia (Lys Gracieux, winner of the Cox Plate, and Admire Rakti, winner of the Caulfield Cup), Dubai (Just A Way, winner of the Dubai Duty Free) and the US (Yoshida, winner of the Woodward Stakes and Churchill Downs Turf Classic) to go with domestic performers of the class of Japanese Derby winner One And Only and Japan Cup hero Suave Richard.

And in 2023, Europe received a posthumous taste of this very classy sire in the Aidan O’Brien-trained Continuous, bred by Coolmore in the season that Deep Impact was so severely restricted. While champion Rhododendron left Japan as one of the few in foal to Deep Impact, with the resulting foal being Auguste Rodin, Coolmore switched Fluff, a Galileo sister to Saxon Warrior’s champion dam Maybe, to Heart’s Cry and were rewarded with Continuous, whose progression last season took in wins in the Great Voltigeur Stakes and St Leger.

In Suave Richard there is now a son who is changing perception

Yet despite this accomplished record, which currently consists of 64 stakes winners, an identifiable heir has been slow to emerge at stud. Just A Way was given every chance at the Shadai Stallion Station and while he did throw champion two-year-old Danon The Kid in his third crop, he has so far been underwhelming and has been switched off the Shadai roster. One And Only has been sparsely used at Arrow Stud as has the Group 2 winner Win Variation.

Heart’s Cry: son Suave Richard is a leading young light of the Japanese stallion ranks. Photo – George Selwyn

However, in Suave Richard there is now a son who is changing perception. A typically tough Japanese product, the chestnut found his feet as an older campaigner, winning the Group 1 Osaka Hai as a four-year-old and Group 1 Japan Cup under Oisin Murphy on the penultimate start of his 19-race career at five.

Suave Richard’s first crop, which comprises 82 foals, raced last year and with excellent results. A high volume of runners yielded 21 winners for approximately 416 million yen, a total which saw him dominate the leading Japanese first-crop sires list over Bricks And Mortar and the Darley-based pair Thunder Snow and Hawkbill. Not only that, he also finished third on the top two-year-old sires’ list, ahead of the more established – and expensive – Lord Kanaloa and Daiwa Major.

As those figures suggest, Shadai appear to have a serious young sire on its hands, a notion which was further underlined when Suave Richard supplied the Group 1 Hopeful Stakes winner Regaleira over the Christmas period. One of only two fillies in the 16-runner event, the Tetsuya Kimura-trained youngster showed a sparkling turn of foot to run down Sottsass’ brother Shin Emperor to win by just under a length, with the pair well clear of the third. Her win also provided a landmark result for the 2011 King George winner Harbinger, for whom she is a first Group 1 winner as a broodmare sire.

Just over a month before the Hopeful Stakes, it was announced that Suave Richard would stand the 2024 season at a fee of 15 million yen, an increase of over seven times his 2023 fee. It set just as the dust settled on the win of another daughter, Corazon Beat, in the Group 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes. That filly later ran third in the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Hanshin in mid-December to add further fuel to the perception of Suave Richard as one of the nation’s most promising young sires.

Heart’s Cry’s successful Christmas period didn’t end with Suave Richard, however. His son Do Deuce holds the distinction of having beaten Equinox in the 2023 Japanese Derby and while it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the colt since then, he finally returned to winning ways on Christmas Eve in the Group 1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama. In a typically deep edition of the race, no fewer than seven other Group 1 winners lined up, all of which were dispatched with ease by the winner’s powerful finishing kick.

Another high-flying product bred by Northern Farm, Do Deuce’s background provides further reminders – if any were needed – of how effectively Japanese buyers shop the international breeding stock sales

Another high-flying product bred by Northern Farm, Do Deuce’s background provides further reminders – if any were needed – of how effectively Japanese buyers shop the international breeding stock sales. Such interests, for example, were again very active at last year’s Tattersalls December Mares Sale, where they accounted for approximately 8.4 million guineas worth of stock.

Do Deuce’s dam, Dust And Diamonds, was plucked out of Kentucky by Katsumi Yoshida, who paid $1 million for the mare at the 2016 Keeneland November Sale. As that valuation suggests, she had plenty to recommend her, notably a win in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Stakes and placing in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Although her sire Vindication never lived up to expectations at stud, he has developed into a fair broodmare sire, perhaps in response to the early opportunities afforded to him. Do Deuce is one of six Group or Grade 1 winners out of one of his daughters; the list also includes another star of 2023 in Elite Power, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, as well multiple Grade 1 winner Yaupon, whose first foals have been so well received at the recent winter Kentucky breeding stock sales.

This purple patch for Heart’s Cry coincided with the news that Darley Japan would be standing his son Yoshida in 2024. Bred in Japan, Yoshida was acquired to race in the US by a partnership headed by WinStar Farm, the China Horse Club and SF Bloodstock through John McCormack at the 2015 JRHA Select Sale in Japan and turned out to be remarkably versatile as the winner of Grade 1 races on both turf (Churchill Downs Turf Classic) and dirt (Woodward Stakes) for Bill Mott. There are understandably few options when it comes to accessing Sunday Silence blood in the US and as such, there were hopes that Yoshida would pick up the baton when he retired to stand at WinStar in 2019.

He was initially well supported and a first crop of 107 foals has so far yielded 13 winners including the stakes-placed pair Yatta and Okiro. However, confidence has evidently been ebbing away. His 2022 book consisted of 50 mares, low by WinStar standards, and that dropped again to 34 in 2023. Yoshida’s first crop have only done enough for him to assume 14th place on the leading North American first-crop sires’ list. Even so, there is a suspicion that the plug has been pulled on him too quickly, especially as Yoshida only ran once at two himself and progressed markedly at three. Either way, it’s another reflection of the current fragility of the American market, especially for those operating within the middle to lower end.

The Japanese market, with its knowledge and regard for the sire line, is better placed to appreciate Yoshida and one suspects that his switch to Darley Japan will ultimately prove to be a good move for all involved.

Yoshida: new to Darley Japan this year. Photo – Lucas Marquardt