Third favorite Suave Richard claimed this year's Japan Cup while capturing his much awaited second G1 title since his Osaka Hai victory last year and has now collected five grade-race titles. After the Osaka Hai, he marked four third-place finishes—the Yasuda Kinen and the Japan Cup last year, along with the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Takarazuka Kinen earlier this season. The five-year-old bounced back remarkably on Sunday from his recent Tenno Sho (Autumn) start in which he was seventh.
For trainer Yasushi Shono, this is his second JRA-G1 title following the Osaka Hai victory with Suave Richard and jockey Oisin Murphy, who is riding under a short-term license, has now landed his first G1 and second graded victory following the G3 Negishi Stakes he claimed in January this year.
The 15-horse field broke in front of the stands on the soggy track with Daiwa Cagney, Danburite and Win Tenderness disputing for the lead. Apart from four horses trailing far behind, the leading group was tightly bunched up cruising down the backstretch with Suave Richard relaxed in seventh to eighth, four to five lengths from the pace on the rails. As the field fanned out at the top of the stretch, Suave Richard kicked into gear surging through an opening near the rails, inherited the lead from the tiring frontrunner before the furlong marker and dueled briefly with the strong challenge of Curren Bouquetd'or. However, the chestnut easily pulled away, showing a stronger drive to the wire to notch a 3/4-length win.
Breaking from the inner-most stall, fifth favorite Curren Bouquetd'or saved ground in third to fourth, entered the straight in second and fought the eventual winner at the furlong marker but failed to further threaten while putting in a good runner-up effort.
Sent off second favorite, 2018 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) victor Wagnerian travelled in sixth behind Curren Bouquetd'or along the backstretch, dropped back to eighth when the others started making their bids rounding the last turn, but finding a clear path in the middle of the straight, unleashed a furious charge, tagging the pace-setter 100 meters out for a 2-1/4 length third.
Race favorite and 2017 Japan Cup runner-up Rey de Oro, saved ground in eighth or ninth behind the eventual winner and ran willingly but was through by the furlong pole, fading to 11th—his first double-digit finish.
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