British raider Snow Fairy, winner of the Investec Oaks (Eng-I) this summer, produced a decisive four-length win in Japan's $2.1 million Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (Jpn-I) at Kyoto Racecourse Nov. 14.
Snow Fairy, an Irish-bred filly that also won the Irish Oaks (Ire-I) this season for trainer Edward Dunlop, made easy work of her rivals in the 2,200-meter (about 11 furlongs) grass test to become the first foreign horse to win the event. Her rivals included 5-year-old mare Meisho Beluga, the runner-up as the second choice in the field of 17 females, and favored Apapane, Japan's filly triple crown champion who finished third as the favorite.
“She put the race to bed in a couple strides," winning jockey Ryan Moore said of the 3-year-old daughter of Intikhab. "She was very good-looking today.”
The other foreign competitor in the field, the Roger Attfield-trained Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) winner Ave, finished a disappointing 16th with Javier Castellano aboard.
Moore, who rode Snow Fairy to her wins in both the Irish and the Epsom Oaks, continues to have a magical year. He also guided Workforce to victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) and the Investec Derby (Eng-I).
He held Snow Fairy just off the pace in fourth position as she shadowed Apapane on her outside through the early portion of the race.
“We had a lovely spot," Moore said "She jumped smoothly and she was in a nice position and she traveled very well. I was drawn beside (Apapane) and I thought she was the best filly, so we kept an eye on her.”
As the field of 17 rounded into the stretch, Apapane went wide and Snow Fairy stayed toward the inside, angling to the rail for the drive. Snow Fairy hugged the rail, Moore only showing her the whip, and she rocketed past the others and into the top spot from the 200-meter mark.
“We got there sooner than I thought,” Moore said. “It just opened up, a big gap.”
She crossed the line in a time of 2:12.5 comfortably ahead of the French Deputy mare Meisho Beluga, who charged home on the outside with Kenichi Ikezoe up to edge Apapane.
The King Kamehameha-sired Apapane, ridden by Masayoshi Ebina, finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Meisho Beluga while nosing Little Amapola for third.
Snow Fairy, owned by Anamoine and bred by Windflower Overseas Holdings, is out of the Charnwood Forest mare Woodland Dream. The bay filly is now five for 12 in her career, and has won four of her six starts in 2010. She was coming off a fourth-place finish in the St. Leger Stakes (Eng-I) at Doncaster Sept. 11.
“She was very fresh and well and the amazing thing is -- she won her first race in May, then two classics, and she’s kept going," Dunlop said. "The St. Leger she ran in, the trip was too far and simply I think she’s a better filly at a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half or mile and three furlongs like it was today.
"The great thing from this trip is that we now can have the confidence to travel her around the world. She seems to enjoy it and she seems happy doing it. If we don’t run in the Japan Cup this year, we will certainly consider coming next year.”
The Canadian-trained Ave traveled well in mid-pack while wide but lost ground entering the homestretch.
“She ran smoothly until the last 600 meters but had nothing left in the end. The distance may have been a bit too long for her,” Castellano said. He was riding after getting a court-issued stay of his six-day suspension for rough riding aboard Prince Will I Am in the Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. III) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.