The HK$18.8 million Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo yesterday was a race of breakthrough performances but held only disappointment for Hong Kong as the Japanese comfortably held the offshore challenge of Beauty Flash and Thumbs Up to keep the prized mile at home yet again.
The Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Flash (Weichong Marwing) was given his chance but could finish only ninth, while Caspar Fownes had something of a hard-luck story with Thumbs Up, who finished 11th under Brett Prebble after striking trouble in running but whether he might have taken a hand in the finish is questionable.
'It's a shame because I thought he was going really well. I can't be disappointed with his performance, only the result,' Fownes said.
'From the six gate, I had expected he might be in midfield but Brett said he just couldn't go the speed and he got well out of it, which wasn't helped by a little squeeze he got in the first few hundred metres.
'Then he had a checkered passage in the straight, struck interference twice and he got stopped at a crucial moment when he was starting to make up ground through the middle. All in all, he wasn't disgraced.'
Cruz said he had asked Marwing to take a sit behind the speed with Beauty Flash but he just didn't have the necessary dash when it counted.
'Knowing there was pace in the race, I thought we should sit behind and he seemed to get into a nice place but he was very one-paced in the straight. No excuses,' Cruz said after the four-time Group One winner finished 33/4 lengths off the winner, Real Impact.
Trainer Noriyuki Hori became the first trainer to take the Yasuda Kinen quinella as Real Impact downed Strong Return to become the first three-year-old ever to win the race and his sire Deep Impact landed his first open Group One win.
The former Japanese superstar's first three-year-old crop had already distinguished him with a 1,000 Guineas winner, Marcellina, in April but landing an open event like the Yasuda Kinen with a youngster having his sixth race start will assure his career.
'I always had the Yasuda Kinen in the back of my mind with Real Impact but really I still wasn't sure before this race that he was up to this kind of competition at this stage,' said trainer Hori.
Hot favourite Apapane had no excuses in finishing sixth after getting a nice run just off the speed.
Tony Cruz's hope, Beauty Flash, could only finish in this position at the Yasuda Kinen