The boot was on the other foot as top jockeys Ryan Moore and Hugh Bowman took centre stage in another titanic Group One clash between Sun Jewellery and Werther but it was still Sun Jewellery who prevailed in a thrilling Classic Cup.
John Size-trained Sun Jewellery had outpointed Werther in the Classic Mile after Moore got first run on Bowman and most thought the extra 200m of the Classic Cup would see John Moore-trained Werther reverse the decision.
But this time it was Bowman holding Moore in a pocket at the 300m and forcing Sun Jewellery to change direction and the Size galloper still had the turn of foot to regain the lead and win in a brilliant denouement with five horses within a length at the post.
“Werther certainly wasn’t unlucky today,” conceded Moore after Werther went down by a head. “Hughy held his position when Ryan tried to come out and he made him have to look for another way out. In fact, I think if Sun Jewellery had been beaten there would have been argument that he was unlucky in the race, so he beat us fair and square. But I’m still happy about where Werther is at, he did his best late in the race after looking beaten at the 200m and the 2,000m of the Derby is really going to suit him.”
Size had been fielding non-stop media questioning about how Sun Jewellery would handle the 1,800m distance and the questions began anew after his fourth Classic Cup win in eight years – this time about the 2,000m in the Derby on March 20.
“He settled nicely today, went to sleep in the run, then picked up and sprinted when Ryan wanted him to and it looked a very determined effort,” Size said. “He’s very competitive every time he races. The 2,000m is a different kind of race, he has to go around another bend and past the post the first time, so they’re things he has to deal with.
“The distance doubt is always there but I don’t think about it – we just roll on to the next race and hope he gets it. Like most good horses, he does a lot of things right, his temperament makes him manageable in a race and determined in a finish so they are attributes you’d love to have in every horse.”
Moore offered similar remarks when asked if the 2,000m would present a problem.
“Sun Jewellery’s a class horse and class usually tells over a distance,” he said. “He’s probably just got a class edge on these horses and that allows horses to stay a little bit further than you think they would.”
The first two finished just inches in front of the third place dead-heaters, Blizzard and Size’s second string, Eastern Express (Karis Teetan), with Giovanni Canaletto (Joao Moreira) a close fifth.
“That’s a great effort from Eastern Express, coming out of Class Three and well out of it at the ratings and I hoped he would do something like that to secure a place in the Derby,” said Size. “He’s had quite a busy time since the end of November while we tried to get his rating up and qualify him and now that he’s there, he won’t run again before the Derby. He and Sun Jewellery will likely have a trial between now and then but they won’t have another race.”
Tony Cruz said Moreira has confirmed himself for the Derby on Giovanni Canaletto, an Epsom Derby fourth last June.
“He ran even better than what I thought he would – he looks like one for the Derby,” he said. “The longer it gets, the better it will be for him. It’s just a matter of time before he reproduces that form he showed at Epsom.”