Blizzard fifth as Red Falx blasts to second Sprinters win

Blizzard ran a game fifth in the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama Racecourse on Sunday as Red Falx stormed hard and late to become the fifth two-time winner of Japan’s autumn sprint championship.

Hong Kong’s challenger ran on solidly up the short, rising straight to finish a length and a quarter behind the Tomohito Ozeki-trained grey. Mirco Demuro’s mount made it back-to-back scores in a time of 1m 07.6s, a neck ahead of the rail-running mare Let’s Go Donki.

Blizzard did not get the sharp start connections had hoped for, breaking moderately from gate 12 and finding himself in tight running through the first furlong. But neither jockey Gerald Mosse nor trainer Ricky Yiu was offering an excuse post-race.

“At the start he was a bit slow and straight away I got pressure,” Mosse said. “I gave him a chance to make sure he found his balance and then I put him in the race. In better circumstances he might have run a little bit closer but he could not win, the winner was too good for us.”

Yiu, who was attempting to win the race for a second time, seven years on from Ultra Fantasy’s all-the-way success, echoed the rider’s view.

“He stayed on strongly but the winner was too good,” he said. “There’s no way we could beat him. Maybe we could have run second or third at most, maybe.”

Mosse was well in contention as the eventual third, Once In A Moon, led the field of 16 out of the turn, but the Frenchman’s arms were already pumping.

“In the turn, I had to give him pressure to be there, they were too quick for him, but in the straight he picked up,” the jockey said.

“The winner was just next to me because I took his run and he came outside of me and quickened by in the straight. The run to the finish line is a bit short for Blizzard.”

Yiu expressed pride in the chestnut, who on the face of it ran up to his domestic form.

“He’s a horse that tries to please you all the time, he always tries his best,” the handler said. “He found a good position and stayed on but the distance is on the sharp side, 1400 (metres) is his distance.”

Connections of Red Falx, unplaced in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint last year, were non-committal about whether or not the six-year-old will return to Hong Kong. Yiu, however, is looking ahead to that 1200m contest on home turf in December.

“We’ll most likely go to the international sprint and hope there’s still a little bit of juice left in him after this,” he said.

And Mosse offered some sage perspective on Blizzard’s performance.

“It was a beautiful race because it was the first time he has travelled and there were a lot of things that he needed to learn,” he said. “I’m very pleased with him.”

Blizzard finishes fifth in the G1 Sprinters Stakes, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club