Tokyo – UK Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy on Sunday added the prestigious Japan Cup to his collection of Group 1 victories this year after guiding Suave Richard to success in Tokyo by 0.75 lengths.
This Yasushi Shono-trained five-year-old landed his second top-level victory after winning the Osaka Hai at Hanshin in April 2018.
Immediately following the race, Murphy said: “I can’t believe it. This is only my second year here and I haven’t had that many Group 1 rides in Japan.
“I knew the horse had a great chance and everything went right in the run. I’m absolutely over the moon.”
Suave Richard finished the 2400m race at Tokyo Racecourse in 2 minutes, 25.9 seconds to beat fifth-pick Curren Bouquetd’or.
“”This is a dream come true. It’s a massive race around the world, the Japan Cup is one of the most important races and it’s a huge achievement,” said the 24-year-old Murphy.
Daiwa Cagney, the 14th favourite steered by Shu Ishibashi, led the way on an overcast day in the Japanese capital until Suave Richard came from the inside with 200m to go.
The five-year-old Suave Richard claimed 300 million yen (R40 million) in prize money.
“I could’ve pushed Curren Bouquetd’or out, but it was going to open up because the leader was tired,” Murphy said. “Japanese horses are becoming the best in the world and this is the best race to showcase that.”
Second-pick Wagnerian finished third, while Daiwa Cagney fell to sixth place. Top-favourite Rey de Oro finished 11th in the 15-horse field.
The Japan Cup was established in 1981 in a bid to create a race in which Japan’s top-ranked horses compete against some of the world’s best. The race was registered as an international Grade 1 event in 1992.
This year, however, the race was contested among only domestic horses for the first time. The event was also a memorial race for seven-time Grade 1 champion Deep Impact, the 2006 Japan Cup champion who was euthanized in July. Four of the horses competing were sired by Deep Impact.
Last year, Almond Eye won the Japan Cup for her fourth Grade 1 victory. The horse skipped the race this year and is expected to compete at December’s Hong Kong Cup.
Frankie Dettori, William Buick and Ryan Moore also had rides in the race, but they all finished down the field. –Kyodo News