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Haruki Sugiyama confident Daring Tact is poised to rebound in FWD QEII Cup

April 21, 2021, 8:32:40 AM

Unfazed by the memories of consecutive losses, Daring Tact's trainer Haruki Sugiyama is confident that the mercurial Japanese filly will replicate the breathtaking form that propelled her to champion status as she prepares to compete in the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (25 April).

Daring Tact resumed with a fast-closing second – as a 1.4 favourite – behind Gibeon in the G2 Kinko Sho (2000m) on 14 March after being defeated by Almond Eye and Contrail in the G1 Japan Cup (2400m) on 29 November.

Sugiyama's belief in an impending return to the winners' circle against world-class opposition on Sunday is focused on the four-year-maturation. old's

“In comparison to the Kinko Sho, she was even more settled and comfortable at the parade ring and the starting gate, so I saw a kind of change with her attitude, which I am pleased with,” Sugiyama said.

“The most important thing is how she does – if she performs to the best of her abilities this weekend, I am sure – as is my squad – that she is the best horse in the field.

“But I know all the other runners in this kind of competition are difficult to beat, so I'm only focusing on how we can better her before this weekend.”

Daring Tact cantered across the dirt track on Tuesday morning (20 April) with frequent jockey Kohei Matsuyama, whom Sugiyama regards as a soothing force on the sometimes unpredictable filly.

“At first, the land situation was mostly used as an explanation. Matsuyama knows this horse better than any other rider in the world, in my opinion. “It was an obvious and simple decision to place Matsuyama on her in this race,” Sugiyama said.

“He is in good balance with the filly, so if I relax and the filly relaxes, we will hopefully get the best outcome. Pace is not a major problem for me right now.”

“My filly has a unique talent. She is an excellent filly to train.”

Daring Tact became the first horse to go undefeated in five consecutive starts at the start of her career, winning the Oka Sho (1600m), Yushun Himba (2400m), and Shuka Sho (2000m) – all at G1 level – en route to her Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown triumph.

Sugiyama is pleased with the way Daring Tact has settled in at Sha Tin, where she will compete against fellow Japanese contestants Loves Only You, Glory Vase, and Kiseki, as well as Hong Kong's Exultant, Time Warp, Furore, and Glorious Dragon.

“The first two or three days, because the world was new to her, she was not very calm at all times, and the same goes for the course, so we gave her rest on Monday, but Matsuyama took her out and rode her this morning (Tuesday, 20 April), and she was comfortable – I am quite pleased with her.”

Matsuyama, the only Japanese jockey to compete at FWD Champions Day this year, is skeptical of the Kinko Sho loss.

“She had reasons that day because the ground conditions were a little unusual,” he said. “She is a fantastic filly, an exceptional horse – she cannot be compared to anyone else.”

Yoshito Yahagi, who has blazed a path internationally with excellent gallopers such as Lys Gracieux (2019 G1 W.S. Cox Plate, 2040m) and Real Steel (2016 G1 Dubai Turf, 1800m), as well as Contrail in Japan, is attempting to win his first Hong Kong race with Loves Only You.

“Lys Gracieux won in Australia and Japan (both at G1 level), but she didn't win in Hong Kong, so this is kind of my vengeance in Hong Kong,” Yahagi joked.

“Four Japanese horses are very athletic, top-level competitors. All of these horses are fantastic. My horse performed admirably in Dubai (finishing third to Mishriff in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, 2410m), and I think she is capable of competing with these horses.”

Yahagi, one of the most experienced – and flamboyant – leaders in world racing, explained why he chose Vincent Ho to race the five-year-old mare.

“It's very difficult to carry a Japanese jockey to Hong Kong because of the Coronavirus, so we choose a Hong Kong jockey, and I believe Vincent Ho has the most enthusiasm of any jockey in Hong Kong right now,” he said.

Ho, who also rides Golden Sixty in the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and Stronger in the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m), is looking forward to riding Loves Only You.

“I can't wait until Sunday. She's moved in well, and all is well. “Once she is on the field, she is really focused, which demonstrates how competent she is,” he said.

“Everything is cool and smooth. I'm very pleased with how she's doing right now.

“She did exceptionally well in the Dubai Sheema Classic. She came dangerously close to Mishriff, one of the world's best ponies. She'll be fiercely aggressive here because she's settled in so well.”