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Soft ground went against Magical Lagoon in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup
By David Jennings and Masakazu Takahashi
Beginner’s luck was not on the cards for Jessica Harrington in Japan on Sunday when Magical Lagoon, her first runner in the country, finished last out of 18 runners in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hanshin.
The weather played against the Irish Oaks and Ribblesdale winner, who was last seen fifth in the Yorkshire Oaks behind eventual Arc heroine Alpinista, as downpours leading up meant the ground was not ideal for Magical Lagoon.
The prize fund was a whopping 281,800,000 yen (£1.71 million/€1.96 million), but the Irish Oaks is one of the European races linked to the race, meaning Magical Lagoon has a bonus of would receive $700,000 if she wins.
After rising to early prominence, Shane Foley sent out distress signals far from home, and Magical Lagoon faded down the straight.
Harrington felt there was a legitimate excuse for the lackluster performance.
She explained: “It was going soft and if the race had been somewhere else she wouldn’t have run. She was out there so she ran. Shane took care of them, but he said it was like driving a car with two flat tires. She hates this ground, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”
When asked if Magical Lagoon would stay in training as a four-year-old, Harrington replied, “I don’t know. A decision has to be made about that. We’ll see how she comes back from Japan first.”
Looking back on the race, Foley said: “I had a good position after a good break but she couldn’t show her best. When push came to shove, there was no response from her.
“She didn’t really want to pit, but that could be related to the downpour.”
The valuable prize went to Takashi Saito-trained Geraldina, ridden by Cristian Demuro to victory, winning by a length of three quarters ahead of Win Marilyn and Lilac, who were battling for second place under Mirco, the brother of the winning rider.
Demuro said: “I didn’t have a race plan but the stable was the very outside gate and I thought I’d see where we were after the break.
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Geraldina and Cristian Demuro win the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hanshin
“Her reaction was so good despite riding in a pack and her sprint down the stretch was excellent. I think she likes the surface today and she was strong.”
For the Demuro brothers, this was the second time they finished 1-2 in a top-level competition, the previous time in 2013 Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) when Cristian won on Ayusan and Mirco was second on Red Oval.
Cristian Demuro added: “It was sIt’s good to be able to race with my brother and it’s been a long time since Ayusan.”
His brother said: “Lilac took advantage of her wonderful foot rotation. In the last race she was nervous but today she was different. She liked softer ground. I ran and looked for Cristian and she charged on the track.”
Favorite Daring Tact was sixth and rider Kohei Matsuyama said, “I’m very sorry but I couldn’t live up to the expectations of her as a favourite. The winner had an advantage in the outdoor stable. Her start was good and I was able to position myself well. She did her best and drove a good race.”
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FIRST RELEASE ON NOVEMBER 13, 2022 AT 4:30 PM