04/17/2008 12:00AM

Gliding going for cut of $1.6M in Grand Nakayama Jump

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Gliding goes after the world's second-richest jump racing prize on Saturday when he takes on nine foes in the $1.6 million Grand Nakayama Jump at Nakayama Racecourse east of Tokyo.

An 8-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding trained by Paul Fout, Gliding won last year's Temple Gwathmey Hurdle and the Foxboro Supreme Hurdle. He prepped for his Japanese adventure with a third-place finish behind Preemptive Strike in the Imperial Cup at Aiken on March 22.

Never worse than fourth in his 15 jump races, he will be encountering steeplechase fences for the first time Saturday.

While the 2 5/8-mile Grand Jump lost much of its luster when Karasi, the three-time defending champ from Australia, was retired because of an injury suffered in training earlier this month, foreign intrigue appears in the form of French invader Alarm Call. Trained by Jacques Ortet, has won his last three starts, the latest a 10-length romp in a Grade 3 contest at France's leading jumps track, Auteuil. Ace French jumps jockey Christophe Pieux is in for the ride.

Japanese hopes in the Grand Jump rest mainly on the shoulders of last year's third-place finisher, Merci a Time.