Suave Richard (Oisin Murphy) wins the 2019 Japan Cup. Photo by the JRA,

A Cool Murphy Ride Delivers Japan Cup Win For Suave Richard

Jason Tan




24-year-old Irishman Oisin Murphy became the youngest jockey to win the Japan Cup when Suave Richard crossed the line first at Tokyo Racecourse, Sunday afternoon.

In some respects it was an armchair ride for Oisin Murphy, although the beauty was in his ability to position his mount on the rail early in the race, three horses back from the pacesetter Daiwa Cagney, before searching for runs nearer the end of the 2400m Group 1.

“Suave Richard has a lot of quality and I was very happy with my positioning into the first turn. The most important thing was for him to relax. The ground was hard work today and when the ground is slow, you can’t waste energy.” Murphy described after the race.

Trainer Yasushi Shono elected to fit cheek-pieces to Suave Richard for his main gallop leading into the Japan Cup and with that equipment also used on the day, the son of Heart’s Cry responded superbly when asked by his pilot.

“I’m happy and relieved that he claimed his second Group 1 title at last — his first since the Osaka Hai, said Shono.

“We raced him in the same racing schedule as last year, coming off the Tenno Sho (Autumn), and since this was the autumn of his five-year-old season and he is more matured, we had high expectations as his form became better with every race.”

After Murphy had secured his position early, the horse traveled smoothly for the first 1800m, before the pace quickened and Suave Richard was asked to sprint. There was a moment just after straightening for the final run home when Murphy had to consider his best move.

“I had the option of forcing Curren Bouquetd’or (ridden by Akihide Tsumura) out – that would have taken a bit of energy but he’s a big enough horse to do that — but then I saw the inside open, it was easier to go the shortest way. I knew in the last 200 metres that Suave Richard would win.”

Suave Richard beat Curren Bouquetd’or by three-quarters-of-a-length, with Wagnerian a further length-and-a-half away in third position.

Oisin Murphy claimed victory by not having to go around one of his opposition.

WATCH: The 2019 Japan Cup, video by the JRA.

As the strength of the Japanese thoroughbred continues to be understood by the race officianados of the world, Oisin Murphy, the quietly driven star, reflected on his JRA success.

“Japanese horses are my friends and I hope they will be my friends for many years to come. The quality in Japan is really high and the world stage will be hearing a lot more about Japanese horses. I would love to win many more Group 1’s in Japan but it’s very hard to win — I rode in the Epsom Derby when I was 18 but I didn’t win my first Group 1 until I think I was 21 or 22.”

There’s little doubt about the deep impact Japanese-bred and trained horses are having on racing by winning Group 1 assignments around the globe. To Hong Kong, Dubai, England and Australia, in 2019 horses have been sent from their equine-adoring homeland to score other nations’ sought-after prizes.

On Sunday Suave Richard won his home Cup, with all the competition coming from within Japan. Helped by astute and clever training, along with a very special ride, he set the large Fuchu crowd alight in the 39th  running of the race.




The Japan Cup was brought to you by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) in asssociation with LONGINES, the Deep Impact memorial.


Hutchi’s Honkers looks forward to the Hong Kong International races on December 8, where Japan’s Almond Eye is set to headline the Hong Kong Cup!