Moore claims Japan Cup on Gentildonna

RYAN MOORE played a major part in Japanese racing history on Sunday when he partnered top filly Gentildonna (Sei Ishizaka) to a heart-stopping victory in the 33rd running of the Japan Cup.

The four-year-old, who was sent off the 11-10 favourite, just held on by a nose from 29-1 shot Denim And Ruby to become the first dual winner of the 521 million yen (£3.23m) Grade 1, which took place in front of a crowd of 97,420 at Tokyo racecourse.

William Buick partnered third-placed Tosen Jordan in a contest where France’s Dunaden did best of the three Europeans in fifth place. The Willie Mullins-trained Simenon finished 13th, while Ed Dunlop’s Joshua Tree was last of the 17 runners.

Handily placed throughout in a race run at a moderate gallop, Gentildonna was sent into the lead shortly after turning for home as Moore dived through a gap on the inside.

Although the daughter of Japanese icon Deep Impact always looked sure to win, it was nail-biting stuff at the line as the three-year-old Denim And Ruby bore down on her with a late charge on the outside.

The line came just in time and Gentildonna duly landed back-to-back wins in Japan’s most celebrated race.

“It was too close for my liking,” said Moore, who is riding in the country on a three-month Japan Racing Association contract.

“I felt I’d held on but Denim And Ruby was a long way away and they only put up the third, fourth and fifth on the screen, so I was a bit worried – especially when I was going down the track after the race and the result still hadn’t come up.”

Moore took over from Gentildonna’s regular partner Yasunari Iwata, jocked off after three defeats in 2013.   “She’s very special, very talented, and it was a real privilege to ride her,” Moore went on.

“She never runs a bad race and her form is rock-solid; if she doesn’t win, she’s always second or third.”

Looking at the way the race unfolded, he said: “I just wanted to keep it as smooth as possible but it was an ugly race and they went very slow, with lots of horses fighting for their heads.

“She pulled me into the race very well and I was always looking to go in towards the fence but we probably got there a little bit sooner than I would have liked. I just hoped no-one would get me very late.

“Fortunately she’s very honest and every time I asked her she kept pulling out a bit more for me. She showed what a massive will to win she has – she didn’t want to get beat.”

Moore added: “This race is right up there with the Dubai World Cup, Kentucky Derby and the Melbourne Cup. These are the sort of big races I always want to be riding in and I’ve always wanted to win this race. I needed a filly as tough and game as her to do it.”

The European trio, all of whom were sent off at over 100-1, were done few favours by the stop-start tempo according to their trainers.

Nevertheless, Mikel Delzangles was delighted with Dunaden’s fifth placing, beaten a little over a length.   “He ran a very good race in the circumstances,” he said.

“They went quite fast for a few strides then slow, and we were further back than we intended, but he ran on very well in the straight.”

Of Simenon, Mullins said: “I was surprised how slowly they appeared to go early on, so the race didn’t turn out as we’d hoped. It didn’t suit our game plan at all.

“Nevertheless, it’s been an extremely educational trip for me, and I’ll take away a lot of valuable experience.”   Joshua Tree’s last-of-17 position was not a true reflection of his running, for he was eased heavily by Johnny Murtagh once his chance had gone halfway up the straight.

Dunlop reflected: “Joshua Tree got upset at the start – I think the razzmatazz might have got to him – and it was a funny race because of the slow pace, but probably the ground was too firm for him anyway.

“We were badly drawn on the wide outside and had to be up there, but he just didn’t fire once they turned for home. Still, it was worth a try.”

Dunlop added Joshua Tree would pass up his entry in Hong Kong next month. A decision about whether he stays in training will be made over the next few weeks.

However, Simenon will go to Hong Kong, “all being well,” said Mullins, while Dunaden may remain in Japan to run in the end-of-year Arima Kinen.

William Buick, meanwhile, was delighted with his third place on rank outsider Tosen Jordan.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” he said. “He’s run a tremendous race, as well as I could have hoped.”

Source: Racing Post 24th November 2013

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