Randwick’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes the centre of world attention

With the shut-down of the majority of world racing Sydney once again became the centre of attention last weekend with 60 countries taking the broadcast of the A$2m, Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) from Randwick on Saturday, April 11th, 2020.

The result was a famous victory for UK trainer William Haggas with Addeybb (IRE) under Englishman Tom Marquand to take an historic Group 1 Sydney double with the six-year-old Pivotal gelding.

For a moment on Saturday it appeared that Addeybb might be in for a serious battle with the Japanese runner Danon Premium (JPN), but then Marquand sent Addeybb forward again and they went away for an unanswered win by an emphatic 3 3/4L.

Both Addeybb and Danion Premium, under James McDonald, were well positioned as they came off the turn for the run home up the hill at the 400m. Danon Premium cornered five wide with Addeybb and Marquand further inside. As they came off the rise they were wide apart and level. A titanic battle of the two international runners looked likely.

However, it was not to be and by the 200m Addeybb and Marquand had pulled out first a lead, and then secondly, it was over in strides with the race in their keeping as they went away from the tiring Danon Premium.

Before the line Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed) and Nash Rawiller overtook Danon Premium (Deep Impact) and McDonald with the margin 1/2L. Master Of Wine (GER) was fourth and Te Akau Shark (NZ) fifth.
The time was 2.06.92 on the Heavy 8 track with the final 600m in 36.67.

“A lot of time and effort goes into a win like this, from everyone back home, our trackwork rider and Tom [Marquand] who gave him an absolute peach, it’s just fantastic,” said travelling foreman Harry Eustace.

“Honestly, I feel I had my dream day a few weeks ago, but today I was kind of thinking Addeybb would be vulnerable and Young Rascal would be the one to get me out of jail. But what a tough, straightforward, genuine horse. He just switches off, knows when to turn it on, and he just drops his head and runs for you and you don’t even have to ask him. An honour to ride a horse like that,” said Marquand.

“I think a lot of people are underestimating how much this means to me. I am very young and hopefully have quite a long time ahead of me in the saddle, but to come down here and win a QEII on an English horse, for someone who has given me a lot of support, at a time that has been tough for English racing, it could not mean any-more,” he said.

"Yes the English horses are good, yes the Japanese horses are good but the Aussies aren't too bad either. Or the New Zealand horses,” said trainer Chris Waller after Verry Elleegant’s second placing.

Addeybb, out of the Kingmambo mare Bush Cat, was first presented in Sydney by Haggas to win the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes over 2000m at Rosehill on March 21st.

Owned by Sheikh Al Maktoum the gelding has now won nine of his 17 races and with four placings earnings have risen to $2.7 million.

On Sunday it was the turn, as it was the previous week, for Japan to provide the Grade 1 action for the rest of the world and as with Randwick the racing was conducted without crowds as a Covid-19 precaution.

It was Daring Tact who claimed this year’s Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) at Hanshin, the first jewel of the Japanese fillies’ Triple Crown, marking her third consecutive career victory in as many starts.

Daring Tact winning the Oka Sho at Hanshin, picture Japan Racing Association
Daring Tact winning the Oka Sho at Hanshin, picture Japan Racing Association

The first-crop daughter of 2014 Japan Cup victor Epiphaneia is the first filly in 40 years and third overall to claim the title in her third career start while she also becomes the first in 16 years and seventh overall undefeated filly to win the first leg. Her debut win last November and Elfin Stakes victory in February—both at the mile—were by convincing 1-1/2 lengths and 4 lengths, respectively.

For both trainer Haruki Sugiyama and jockey Kohei Matsuyama, this triumph marks their second JRA-Grade 1 victory. Sugiyama’s first title was the 2018 JBC Classic with K T Brave and Matsuyama’s was with Al Ain in the 2017 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas).

Daring Tact was a bit keen after breaking from stall nine but settled in a rearward position in 11th to 12th cruising down the backstretch in the heavy rain. Making rapid headway in a wide sweeping move around the final turn, the Epiphaneia filly kicked into gear showcasing a strong and tenacious charge with the fastest late speed and after picking off the tiring field, finally caught Resistencia a few strides before the wire for the win.

‟I concentrated on her rhythm more than where to position her today. We were far behind the leaders and desperate in catching up but she responded beautifully and stretched incredibly all the way to the line. I’m not worried about the added distance in the coming Japanese Oaks but she does have issues to work on such as being relaxed. I’m praying that the day we can race in front of the crowd again will come soon,” commented jockey Kohei Matsuyama after the race.

The importance of international cooperation including co-mingling of wagering pools between certain racing jurisdictions was on show as well with both Hong Kong and Japan broadcasting and wagering on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. On Sunday certain Asian Racing Federation countries were able to wager with their own pools on the Oka Sho.

Next weekend the Hong Kong Jockey Club has announced that the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho from Nakayama Racecourse in Japan will be simulcast for betting during the Sha Tin race meeting on Sunday, April 19th, 2020.

Nakayama’s spring racing season concludes on a high note with the 80th running of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas) – a 2000m race open exclusively to 3yo colts and fillies. The classic race is the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown and has served as a launch pad for many future champions. The top five finishers in the Satsuki Sho are guaranteed to start in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) held next month.