JAPAN and Crystal Ocean served up a terrific climax to the extended 10-furlong Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday, with Ryan Moore on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan (5/1) just getting the better of James Doyle on Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean.
Japan’s stablemate Circus Maximus set the pace with Crystal Ocean alongside him. Stoute’s admirable five-year-old hit the front a long way out, but could not get sufficiently clear of the opposition.
Although he knuckled down in typically game fashion, Crystal Ocean was caught by Japan in the dying strides and succumbed by a head, giving O’Brien a record-equalling sixth win in the race, along with Stoute.
The supplemented Elarqam was a length away in third.
Japan struck a mighty blow for the classic generation by defeating the older Crystal Ocean.
The victory saw Aidan O’Brien join Crystal Ocean’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute as the winning-most trainer with six victories in the race. He is likely to aim Japan at the Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The John Gosden-trained Logician showed he is probably the most progressive three-year-old stayer in training when successfully stepping up from handicaps to Group 2 company in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes.
The Frankel colt only made his debut in May but is now four out of four and the ante-post favourite for the William Hill St Leger, after he overcame his relative inexperience with an authoritative display.
The first group race of the four-day meeting, the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes, went to Richard Fahey’s Valdermoro, who got up close home to deny the O’Brien-trained Harpocrates.
Dakota Gold gave Darlington trainer Michael Dods a boost ahead of the run of Mabs Cross in Friday’s Nunthorpe Stakes by making all in the Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap. The Ayr Gold Cup is Dakota Gold’s objective.
Doyle gained a little compensation for Crystal Ocean’s defeat when delivering Eddystone Rock with a pulsating run to strike in the Sky Bet Handicap over an extended two miles.
Trainer John Best is now planning a tilt at the Cesarewitch with the seven-year-old. Owney Madden sprang a 20/1 surprise for the Martyn Meade team in the Sky Bet Nursery Handicap under Rob Hornby.