Historic win for Deirdre as Japan strike at top level in Britain for second time
A moment of horseracing history was made on the sunny South Downs as Deirdre, the first Japan-based runner at Glorious Goodwood, landed the Qatar Nassau Stakes.
Almost two decades on from the breakthrough top-level success of Agnes World in the July Cup, Deirdre defied market expectation to pounce late and defeat front-runner Mehdaayih by a length and a quarter under Oisin Murphy.
Rawdaa kept on well to finish third, while Hermosa faded quickly out of contention to trail in last, a performance Aidan O'Brien could offer no explanation for when asked by the stewards.
Successful in the Group 1 Shuka Sho at Kyoto in 2017, Deirdre has run consistently in leading contests across the world, including when fourth in this year’s Dubai Turf at Meydan and sixth behind Crystal Ocean in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
However, this momentous triumph provided a timely boost for the sport in Japan, just two days after the death of multiple champion sire Deep Impact, and its importance was not lost on Seiko Hashida Yoshimura, the racing manager for owner Toji Morita and daughter of trainer Mitsuru Hashida.
Yoshimura said: “It was a very big challenge to come over here but we could see she tried really hard at Royal Ascot in spite of the rain-softened ground and this surface suited her much better.
“We were hoping for the best for her and this has been a glorious day. We have always believed in her and she has great support in Japan.
“Goodwood is an amazing place. I’ve never seen such a beautiful racecourse and it's completely different to the tracks in Japan."
Yoshimura hopes Deirdre’s success instigates a popularity boost for British racing in Japan and believes it is possible the five-year-old daughter of Harbinger, based at Jane Chapple-Hyam’s yard in Newmarket, could race on in Britain.
She said: “We hope that coming here alone has proved it's not that difficult, and hopefully this will have a good influence in bringing more horses over and boosting the interest in British racing in Japan.
“We will discuss with everyone involved as to where we go next, but it's possible she could race on in Britain.”
A high-five with groom Yuta Komiyama along with raising his hands to the applauding crowd signified the delight of Murphy, who described it as a “massive day” in his career.
Murphy, who holds a narrow lead over Danny Tudhope in the jockeys’ title race, said: “I hold the Japanese horses in such high regard so it’s fantastic for them to win a big prize here.
“I convinced myself she had a super chance after she worked brilliantly recently, but to go and win in a decent field is fantastic.
“This is a massive day in my career. Roaring Lion and Benbatl put me on a different level altogether but to find two spare rides in Veracious and Deirdre this year is fantastic. I’m a fan of fillies at the moment!”
Murphy enjoyed 25 winners in Japan during a two-month stint in the country after riding at the Hong Kong International meeting in December, a winter trip that made a big impression on the leading jockey.
He said: “It’s the strictest place in the world to get into but I worked really hard and had a great agent and interpreter out there. I was spoiled in riding very nice horses on a daily basis and had a great time.
“You see more Japanese fans at the Arc rather than Goodwood but I’m sure they’ll be back here in the future. Hopefully it will encourage more runners too.”
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