Eishin Preston, an American-bred son of Green Dancer based in Japan, defeated Takao Watanabe's Agnes Digital by a half-length in Sunday's Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I) on good turf at Sha Tin. The 5-year-old son of Green Dancer completed the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.50.
"The early pace was slow, but it picked up in the final part of the race," said winning rider Yuichi Fukunaga. "I thought I would win at the head of the straight, but in the last hundred meters I was worried that Agnes Digital might beat me."
Indigenous finished third, a neck behind Agnes Digital, with Australian Derby (Aust-I) winner Universal Prince a half-length back in fourth. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Grandera, who was followed by Cheers Hong Kong, Precision, Olympic Express, Lethals Lady, Okawango, Rebel Leader, Rainbow and Gold, Helene Vitality, and Idol.
"My horse has given everything, but that's racing for you," said Toshiaki Shirai, who trains Agnes Digital. "After his trip to Dubai, perhaps my horse was only at about 90 percent of his best, but he has run very well in finishing second. He will be back."
The win marks the ninth in 22 starts for Eishin Preston, who is trained by Shuji Kitahashi and was bred by Joseph E Gehl. Eishin Preston was the 1999 champion 2-year-old colt in Japan. He won last year's Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) by 3 1/4 lenghts at Sha Tin. The Queen Elizabeth II Cup marks his seventh career stakes win.
The Queen Elizabeth II Cup is the second leg of the 2002 World Series Racing Championship. Eishin Preston is now tied for the lead with Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Street Cry.
"My horse has been in great condition, and I would like to thank my staff for all their help," trainer Shuji Kitahashi said. "Eishin Preston's owner, Toyomitsu Hirai, would like to compete in more international events and I hope we will be back here in December for the Hong Kong Cup."
Third-place finished Indigenous was making his sixth consecutive start in the race.
"He's a terrific horse, who keeps giving it," said rider Felix Coetzee. "He showed his class today. I followed the winner, but he just had more pace."