Ryan Moore was at his best defying traffic problems aboard Vela Azul to win the Japan Cup for the second time in Tokyo.
The 7/2 third favorite found himself in an impossible position with two furlongs to go, but Moore conjured up some magic aboard the five-year-old to battle his way forward. And his mount was more than ready for the challenge once daylight stormed the favorite Shahryar ridden by Cristian Demuro in the closing stages.
Moore, who also picked up the prize aboard Gentildonna in 2013, rode for Japan’s first Cup winner Kunihiko Watanabe in the mile-and-a-half showpiece, with Vela Azul quickly rising through the ranks for Watanabe since his time at the grass.
Arriving here on the back of a sophomore success at Hanshin, he has proven himself up to the test of Japan’s richest race.
“The pace was rather slow, but my horse has a good late charge and I trusted him to put in a good run,” said the winning trainer. “He was in good condition before this race, but he exceeded our expectations.
“He’s a five-year-old, but he’s getting better and better and still has room to improve. The reason for racing him on gravel at the start of his career was because he had leg problems (fractures) as a young colt and in order to run it with less risk, he was raced on dirt.
“However, I thought he had an aptitude for running well on grass and it was just a matter of timing as to when to switch to grass running.”
Moore added: “I was very lucky to ride a talented horse. The pace was very consistent for the Japan Cup. The horse never had much room, but when he did he very well accelerated, so he was very impressive today.
“The horse in front had to wait and I had to wait (too), and when he found a bit of room he accelerated very well.”
Fellow Briton Tom Marquand finished fourth aboard Daring Tact, while French-formed duo Grand Glory and Onesto topped the small group of European raiders, finishing sixth and seventh respectively.
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