Loves Only You dominate the QE II Cup at Sha Tin

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup (QE II CUP) is a Group One Thoroughbred horse race at Sha Tin Racecourse in the New Territories; Hong Kong. Established in 1975 by the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, it is run annually in April at a distance of 2,000 meters (ten furlongs) on turf. Prior to 1997, it was run at 2,200 meters (eleven furlongs).

Sponsored by Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet since 1999; it currently offers a purse of HK$20 million (US$2.6 million)since 2014/15.

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup was first run at the Happy Valley Racecourse in Happy Valley; Hong Kong to commemorate a visit to Hong Kong by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was a local Class 1 or 2 race over a distance between 1,400 and 1,800 metres until 1995 when it opened to international entries. Since then; Hong Kong horses have been competing against those from the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Australia.

Since becoming a Group One race in 2001; every winner of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup has been a descendant of Northern Dancer. The 2006 race saw Irridescence upset the great filly and European Horse of the Year, Ouija Board.

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi

Savored redemption and Vincent Ho celebrated the best day of his burgeoning career after the veteran Japanese trainer and the young Hong Kong jockey combined; with devastating effect as Loves Only You triumphed in the HK$25 million G1 FWD Queen EII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday April 25th.  Confirming Japan’s towering status as an international staying powerhouse; Loves Only You crowned a stunning domination of the race by the visitors with Glory Vase; Daring Tact and Kiseki filling the minor placings and giving Japanese based horses the top four spots.

Globe-trotting Yahagi has exulted in victories in Dubai and Australia but; until today, the flamboyant trainer had never triumphed in Hong Kong.  All of that changed with a precision ride from Ho as the 30-year-old became the first home-grown jockey in history to ride two Group 1 winners in a day at Sha Tin.  “I can’t describe it,” Ho said, reacting to a pair of G1 successes in the space of 40 minutes.  “The horse (Loves Only You) is in form; for sure.

She was very kind until the 800 (meter mark) then sort of hit a flat spot and I gave her two shakes just to teach her a little bit and then I asked her again and she responded very well through the line.  I don’t dare to look back until the finish line but she was amazing. I’m grateful that the Japanese connections asked me to ride her.  The QEII Cup is one of my dream goals as well as the Derby and the December internationals, a QEII win means a lot”

The Early Stages of the Queen II Elizabeth Cup 

Played out according to script with Time Warp making the early lead while attempting to set the stage for stablemate Exultant; Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year and winner of this event a year earlier.  As the seven-horse field neared the end of the backstretch, it was obvious it was not Exultant’s day.  Instead, Ho was revving the engine on Loves Only You. The Deep Impact mare was challenging for the lead turning for home and; with nothing threatening, went on to win by 3/4 length. Glory Vase; winner of the 2019 Hong Kong Cup, edged Japan’s 2020 3-year-old filly champ Daring Tact for second and Kiseki finished fourth.

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