First Japanese Grade 1 victory for International Jockey William Buick

Sunday's ¥ 238,600,000, Grade 1 Mile Championship (1600m) at Kyoto was not only the first Grade 1 victory of the Lord Kanaloa colt Stelvio (JPN), it was the first Grade 1 win for trainer Tetsuya Kimura and the first Japanese Grade 1 win for international jockey William Buick.

First Japanese Grade 1 victory for International Jockey William Buick
First Japanese Grade 1 victory for International Jockey William Buick

UK based Buick had ridden with success at the Breeders' Cup meeting at Churchill Downs in early November, then flown to Melbourne to ride for Godolphin during the Victoria Racing Club's Melbourne Cup Carnival week, adding a stakes win to his resume and Japan was next on his itinerary.

Buick's win on Kimura's colt before a crowd of 33,129 was another display of international racing throughout the Asian Racing Federation and the importance of the occasion was clear in Buick's comments after the win.

“It is my first Grade 1 win in Japan and this race is obviously one of the world’s biggest mile races so it is very special for me," he said.

"The horse was in great condition and when I saw he was drawn one, I thought that if he can make use of the draw and get a good position, he has a chance, which the horse managed to do. He had a good finishing kick.

"He won like a class horse and hopefully this is the beginning of this horse’s Grade 1 career,” he said.

Buick is currently riding in Japan on a short term contract, his first in four years.

Stelvio earlier in his career had two consecutive wins in his first two starts as a two-year-old, he was runner-up in the following Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3) and the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1) then marked his first graded victory when he commenced this year in the the Spring Stakes (G2). The colt finished fourth and eighth, respectively, in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1).

In the race Stelvio broke smoothly from the innermost stall, settled toward the front and waited along the rails while his rivals travelled wide to make bid turning the corners.

Entering the main straight in fourth from the front the colt unleashed a powerful turn of foot under Buick, overtook Al Ain (JPN) 100 meters out and pulled away strongly while holding off the strong challenge by the defending champion Persian Knight (JPN) (Harbinger).

Third pick Persian Knight stalked Stelvio by the rails and challenged the three-year-old bay with an impressive late charge before the wire but was a head short of defending his title.

Fourth choice Al Ain (JPN) (Deep Impact) rushed out to travel second or third behind frontrunner Aerolithe, took the front around the 200-meter marker, was overtaken by Stelvio then by Persian Knight in the last 100 meters but held on well to cross the wire in third.

Earlier on the Kyoto programme Buick's UK colleague Ryan Moore won on trainer Yasutoshi Ikee's two-year-old Deep Impact colt Plunderer (JPN) over 2000m adding to the international success at the meeting.

Moore also stays in the Asian Racing Federation region over the coming weeks riding in the Hong Kong Jockey Club's LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship in a spectacular night of racing at Happy Valley racecourse on Wednesday, December 5th followed by the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on Sunday, December 8th where Buick may also ride.