Queen Elizabeth II Cup: Lovely Day 4th; best of Japanese runners in Hong Kong
The build up to the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup was a thrilling enough thing in itself, even before the 4-year-old Werther literally flew home at Sha Tin yesterday afternoon, leaving some very good horses trailing in his path to the winning post. In a race that trainer John Moore is starting to make his own (it was his fifth win in the race), despite rating Werther highly, even he was surprised at the manner in which the New Zealand bred gelding took the race by the scruff of the neck. “I wasn’t expecting that,” said the trainer.
For a brief moment turning for home, it looked as if Lovely Day might do the business for Japan, but lost out to Werther’s surge to the line, as well as grinding finishes from Military Attack and Blazing Speed, to give the home team the first three spots on the board. Lovely Day was the best placed runner for Japan in fourth, with Nuovo Record in sixth, and Satono Crown in twelfth, in a race run on less than ideal ground for them.
The race was action packed from the start, and with a short run to the first turn, a number of runners, including Satono Crown, jostled for the early lead, and the Noriyuki Hori trained 4-year-old just about hit the front on the first bend, before giving way to eventual pacesetter, Helene Super Star. Jockey Joao Moreira took a lovely sit back on the rails on Lovely Day, even though the horse wasn’t quite as relaxed as he might have been, and Yutaka Take had Nuovo Record settled well towards the rear, a position he kept throughout most of the race. Down the back straight, Helene Super Star continued to cut out the running, with Helene Happy Star in second, while Satono Crown maintained a prominent position, with Ertijaal racing wide. Highland Reel got shuffled back after being well forward early. In the meantime, Hugh Bowman aboard Werther had the eventual winner racing quite well back, but with a good rhythm, and was able to work him between horses as he saw fit. At the 800 meter mark, Take started to get to work on Nuovo Record as he began to make his move. Turning for home, all Japanese eyes were on Lovely Day, who from his draw in gate one had a fuel saving run all the way round. About 400 meters out, Lovely Day collared Helene Happy Star to take the lead briefly, but as the horses angled out from the rail, it merely opened up a convenient path for Hugh Bowman and Werther to go on and claim the race by a stunning 4 1/2 lengths. Race favourite Lovely Day was beaten into fourth by just under six lengths, while Nuovo Record had to come wide on the final bend, but ran on well to take sixth. Satono Crown could manage no more in the home straight and faded to twelfth.
Hugh Bowman said of his ride on the winner: “Today I got him relaxed throughout the race. I had a suspicion that after the Derby we’d see a better horse, but didn’t expect him to perform to that level today.” Joao Moreira on Lovely Day thought he was slightly unlucky, commenting, “He didn’t relax as much as I’d hoped. Had he settled, he might have run second. I was proud to ride him, and he gave me the feeling he can win an international Grade 1.” Yutaka Take was pleased with the efforts of Nuovo Record, saying, “The ground was too soft for her today. She was in good condition for the race, but she can’t run her best on ground like that.” Zachary Purton aboard Satono Crown said, “He jumped well and we were in a lovely spot, but when the pressure came he didn’t respond.” Satono Crown won his last race in Japan on yielding ground, so he was expected to handle the surface at Sha Tin.
But whatever the comments in defeat, it’s hard not to focus on a truly great win by Werther, a horse who hadn’t been out of the first two in his last four outings, and who now looks to have a big future ahead of him. Werther is by Tavistock and won the race in a time of 2 minutes 1.32 seconds.
Please visit the following websites for more information.
Hong Kong Jockey Club website:
Audemars Piguet QEII Cup website: