Studying for tonight's Queen Elizabeth II Cup: replays and quotes
Coming up at 1:40 a.m. (EST) tonight is the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) from Kyoto, the first race in the Japan Autumn International series that runs for four straight Sundays. As a companion to the QEII Cup preview post, let’s go to the videotape for a few replays, and end with salient quotes from connections.
First, last year’s QEII Cup. Watch Lachesis erupt from the pack to deny Nuovo Record (hot pink silks and green blinkers on rail). The duo will square off again tonight:
Lachesis warmed up in the October 12 Kyoto Daishoten (G2), doing her best work late for fourth to the top older male Lovely Day. You can see her (no. 8) held up off the pace on the inside, before coming through between foes in the stretch and edging QEII rival Hula Bride (no. 6):
Nuovo Record also faced males in her tune-up, the September 27 Sankei Sho All Comers (G2). The blaze-faced chestnut (no. 4, again sporting her hot pink silks and green blinkers) found room to rally on the rail, only to be overhauled by another filly, Shonan Pandora (who’s not in the QEII Cup):
But the most informative races may turn out to be the fillies’ classics.
Highly regarded Rouge Buck was last seen finishing second to Japan Cup (G1)-bound Mikki Queen in the May 24 Japanese Oaks (G1). No. 14 in U. Carrot Farm’s green and white jacket (distinguished from the other U. Carrot runner by the orange cap), she’s parked in striking range on the outside before launching her good-looking bid in the stretch:
Touching Speech upstaged Mikki Queen in the September 20 Sho Rose (G2), a prep for the final fillies’ classic, the Shuka Sho (G1). The two bided their time at the rear (Touching Speech next to last as No. 11, and slow starting Mikki Queen last of all) and they rallied widest of all down the lane:
In the October 18 Shuka Sho, Queens Ring just missed to Mikki Queen, with Touching Speech back in sixth. Queens Ring raced far off the early pace as no. 9, closed on the far outside, and came up a neck short at the line. Touching Speech (no. 11), last as they prepared to turn for home, made late headway:
The October 17 Fuchu Himba (G2) was a prep for several QEII runners, led by the top two, Nobori Diana and Smart Layer. Nobori Diana (no. 15) will rally from far back, down the center of the course, while Smart Layer (no. 4, the gray on the fence early) just takes second from Café Brilliant (who’s not in the QEII Cup).
Although I’ve used the YouTube versions to embed, you can always find the replays on the japanracing.jp site, under the “Racing Information” section of the top menu (see the “List of JRA Graded Races” option).
Japanracing.jp is a great resource for quotes as well. Here are the comments I found potentially significant.
Trainer Katsuhiko Sumii on defending champion Lachesis: "I didn’t pay much attention to her time this week, but I’d say her movement is better now. She’s on and off her feed. Before we take her to the racetrack she weighs over 470 kg but the trip to the track apparently takes a lot out of her mentally. She doesn’t get agitated but she doesn’t eat. There are a lot of unknowns with her."
Lachesis’ assistant trainer Norihiko Kishimoto sounds more positive: "She looks just as good as she did for her win last year. My expectations are high."
Trainer Makoto Saito on Nuovo Record: "Last year, I didn’t think she’d be able to handle the race (when a near-miss second to Lachesis), which demands late speed, but now I think she’s ready for it. This race has been our main objective. Iwata is ready for it and I don’t think he wants to lose to the foreign jockeys or to the 3-year-olds."
Trainer Masahiro Otake on Rouge Buck, who attempts this race off a six-month layoff: "I think she’ll be on her toes just enough for the race. This week we focused on the half mile and we tested her responses over the short distance. She glowed the whole way and heated up a bit in the end. To be honest, I think her responses are a little bit duller than they were in the spring. Last week, she was a bit heavy but the weekend gallop and this week’s were a lot better. I think this last gallop will have gotten her up to where we want her. I think we made the deadline. If she can get a run where she’s able to draw on her strength then she should measure up to the older horses. But, it is her first race in a while and a G1 on top of that. That’s the main point of concern. Also, rain would make things all the more difficult. I’m hoping for a fast track."
Jockey Christophe Lemaire on Touching Speech: “Her starts are never that good so in the Shuka Sho we raced from the back, then had to go wide into the straight. She didn’t have enough speed. She was still moving well but not fast enough. She wasn’t that far off the winner though. I don’t think the Kyoto inner course suits her. The outer should be better and the distance. Her mental condition is important and I think she was feeling better in the Rose Stakes than the Shuka Sho."
Assistant trainer Hidenori Take on Hula Bride: "We’d been concerned last race because she’d bled the time before (when eighth at Sapporo in August). She was lean but since she was coming off a layoff, I think she could have done with one or two more fast gallops. But her last race was good considering (fifth in the Kyoto Daishoten)….the last race has sharpened her up markedly. This will be her last race and she is in top condition. The Kyoto outer 2,200 is her best race. She was in good shape last year (when fourth in the QEII Cup) but she’s good this year too.
Trainer Yuji Iida on 2013 champion Meisho Mambo, who hasn’t won since: “She’s won this race before but recently, even though we’ve tried a lot of different things, she just doesn’t seem able to do what she used to. We’re not stressing her out too much but at the same time we’re not letting her have her own way and we’re hoping that will stand her well in the race.”