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Capri and Thundering Blue seek Japan Cup glory

23 Nov 2018

Pair will fly the flag for Europe in prestige contest in Tokyo on Sunday.

Capri and Ryan Moore after landing the William Hill St Leger in 2017 . Racingfotos.com

Ryan Moore feels Capri needs to return to his best form as a three-year-old to make his presence felt in the Japan Cup at Tokyo on Sunday.

Capri won the Irish Derby and the St Leger in 2017, beating a host of top-class horses in the process, but has not had the roll of the dice so far this year after missing a chunk of the campaign.

However, Moore reported Capri to be in good form after exercising the Aidan O’Brien-trained grey on the track this week and is looking forward to the mile-and-a-half showpiece.

“We’re very happy with him. He’s travelled and settled in very well,” said the jockey on www.japanracing.jp. “This year, he started well and then he had a setback after his win. He ran a very credible race in the Arc and I feel that the race in Ascot (Champion Stakes) was too short of a turnaround.

“He didn’t run badly, this horse very rarely runs a bad race. His form is very good – when you look back when he won the St Leger, he beat Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius and Rekindling.

“When he won the Irish Derby he beat Cracksman, Wings Of Eagles and Waldgeist who are all Group One winners.

“He needs to come back to that to be involved against some high-class horses and show the exceptional form that he had last year.”

Thundering Blue has been a sensation for connections, winning at Group Two and Group Three level as well being placed in two Group Ones.

The latest was in the Canadian International at Woodbine, having previously made an impact in the QIPCO British Champions Series when third to Roaring Lion in the Juddmonte International.

Trainer David Menuisier is looking for a strong pace in the race to play to Thundering Blue’s strengths.

He said: “I think the distance will play in his favour because when he ran at York over 10 and a half furlongs (in the Juddmonte International), he looked like he was doing his best work in the final stages. As he is a horse with a big turn of foot, I would like to think that a strong pace will play in his favour.

“The horse is absolutely great and he’s absolutely thriving at the moment. He can run straight, left-handed or right-handed. He’s very flexible.

“I just want him to run a good race. Hopefully he will run to his best and we will see what his best can be.”

Capri and Thundering Blue are the only European representatives in a field of 14 runners.

The hot favourite is the Sakae Kunieda-trained Almond Eye, who has completed the fillies’ Triple Crown in her homeland this year with victories in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and the Shuka Sho. Crack French jockey Christophe Lemaire takes the ride.