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Horse Racing

Queen Elizabeth II Cup Preview: Geraldina Chases Repeat Triumph in the G1 Race

In the last 10 years of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, there's been just one winning favorite (Lucky Lilac in 2020), while seven winners were 4-year-old fillies.

The big race on Sunday, November 12 is the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, which will return to its traditional venue at Kyoto Racecourse in 2023, after being run at Hanshin for the last three years. It is the first leg of the Japan Autumn International Series of races, which includes the Grade 1 Japan Cup on November 26.

The Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup was first run in 1976 to commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth's visit to Japan in 1975. It was originally for 3-year-old fillies and run over 2,400 meters. Then the Grade 1 Shuka Sho was established in 1996, thus opening up the QEII to older fillies and mares. Now it is run over 2,200 meters on the outer turf course at Kyoto and has been an international Grade 1 race since 1999. 

In 2022, Magical Lagoon was the first runner from overseas in 11 years, looking back to the great winning performances of Irish-bred, English-trained Snow Fairy, a filly that performed so well at Kyoto in 2010 and 2011.

There will be no foreign horses this year, and the field might be just a little smaller than usual, with 15 fillies and mares nominated for the 48th running of the race. Three-year-old fillies, of which three have been nominated, carry 54 kg, while 4-year-olds and up have a set weight of 56 kg. 

Additional Details About the Queen Elizabeth Cup II

Prize money to the 2023 winner is ¥130 million JPY (nearly $860,000 USD). 

The record time for the race at Kyoto is held by To the Victory, who won in 2 minutes 11.2 seconds back in 2001. A number of this year's entries are coming off runs in the Grade 2 Ireland Trophy Fuchu Himba Stakes, which was run over 1,800 meters at Tokyo in October.

Interesting statistics from the last 10 years of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup include just one winning favorite (Lucky Lilac in 2020), and seven winners have been 4-year-old fillies. Nine of the last 10 winners have been trained at the Ritto Training Center in the west of Japan, while six foreign jockeys have been victorious in that same time period. 

Look out for a number of foreign jockeys this weekend, November 11-12, when they fly in to take part in the big autumn races in Japan.

The Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup will be Race 11 on the Sunday card at Kyoto. Race time is 3:40 PM JST.

Here's a look at some of the fillies and mares set to take on this year's race.

Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Geraldina, ridden by Cristian Demuro, wins the 47th running of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on November 8, 2022, at Hanshin Racecourse. (ⒸSANKEI)

Geraldina Returns to Defend Queen Elizabeth II Cup Title

Five-year-old Geraldina, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 2022, is looking to become the fifth horse in the history of the race to win in consecutive years. The Maurice-sired mare was last seen finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Sankei Sho All Comers over 2,200 meters at Nakayama in September, and before that, she finished fourth to Equinox in the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen in June, a performance that would give her a good chance here. 

Trainer Takashi Saito commented: "She ran a little wide in the All Comers last time but kept running on at the end, so it wasn't a bad race for her. Her run in the Takarazuka Kinen also showed that she's getting back to near her best. It'll be the same rotation as last year, and she's now back at the stable and on the training track, where she's been moving as usual." 

Ryan Moore takes the ride on Geraldina this time.

Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Harper exercises on November 1 in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture. (ⒸSANKEI)

It's just a shoe!

Tomomichi Impressed with Harper's Fitness

Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi will have two runners in the race, as he bids for an 18th JRA Grade 1 win. For a change, Harper, the 3-year-old by Heart's Cry, won't have to deal with Liberty Island this time. Harper has only been unplaced once in six starts and always seems to give her best in a race. 

The trainer stated: "She drew inside in the Shuka Sho, and it meant that when she wanted to make a move, she couldn't. As a filly with a nice big stride, it became a bit difficult and muddling for her. She recovered quickly from that race and was soon back to work, and everything's been fine with her up to now."

Read the rest of this article about the Queen Elizabeth II Cup as well as the Japanese horses in contention on JRA News.

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Author: JRA News

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