Almond Eye eclipses Thundering Blue in Japan Cup

Thundering Blue ridden by Jim Crowley comes home to win The BetBright Recall Handicap at Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher.
Image: Thundering Blue

David Menuisier is already planning Thundering Blue's 2019 campaign after fast ground and Almond Eye's record-breaking brilliance put the globe-trotting grey in the shade in the Japan Cup.

Thundering Blue finished 10th, one place ahead of Aidan O'Brien's Capri, as the twin British and Irish challenge was scorched for pace in a track-record time for the mile-and-a-half Grade One in Tokyo on Sunday.

Almond Eye took her unbeaten record to five career starts, encompassing the Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown, with a one-and-three-quarter-length win under Christophe Lemaire from the front-running Kiseki to keep the near £2million prize at home for a 13th year in succession.

Menuisier was undeterred in defeat, and still full of admiration for Thundering Blue - who has risen from the handicapping ranks to win twice in group company this year, taking him to the top level for his last two international starts.

"Very proud of #ThunderingBlue in the Japan Cup today at Tokyo racecourse," Menuisier wrote on Twitter.

"Ground was far too quick to his liking, worked well on it 2 days ago but dried out dramatically since. Despite, was trying his best to the line."

Thundering Blue has taken his French trainer from their Sussex base, via a mid-summer Group Two win at York and then third to the mighty Roaring Lion on his return to the Knavesmire for the Juddmonte International, to Group Three victory in the Stockholm Cup at Bro Park and then second spot in Woodbine's Pattison Canadian International Stakes last month.

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After the five-year-old's latest adventure, Menuisier added: "He's a trooper and will redeem himself in 2019. We LOVE him!"

Sent off at odds of more than 50-1, with three-year-old Almond Eye a 2-5 favourite, Thundering Blue and Fran Berry were still last of the 14-strong field two furlongs out.

They made late ground to pass four rivals and finish one and threequarter lengths ahead of Ryan Moore on O'Brien's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe fifth Capri - but 17 behind Sakae Kunieda's historic winner.

Last year's victor Cheval Grand was fourth.

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