Third favorite Suave Richard came from behind to win the 39th running of the Japan Cup on Sunday for the horse’s second Grade 1 title.
Ridden by Oisin Murphy, who was recently crowned British champion jockey, Suave Richard finished the 2,400-meter race at Tokyo Racecourse in 2 minutes, 25.9 seconds to beat fifth pick Curren Bouquetd’or by three-quarters of a length.
“This is a dream come true,” the 24-year-old Murphy said.
“It’s a massive race around the world, the Japan Cup is one of the most important races and it’s a huge achievement.”
Daiwa Cagney, the 14th favorite steered by Shu Ishibashi, led the way on an overcast day until Suave Richard came from the inside with 200 meters to go.
Suave Richard claimed ¥300 million ($2.76 million) in prize money. The 5-year-old, trained by Yasushi Shono, picked up his first Grade 1 victory since last year’s Osaka Hai.
“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 favorite 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, but is expected to compete at December’s Hong Kong Cup.