Ryan Moore capped what has been an exceptional year, as he powered Gentildonna into Japanese horse racing folklore by becoming the first horse ever to win the Japan Cup twice with victory on Sunday.
A nose victor in controversial circumstances last season as she overturned the luckless Orfevre, there was nothing controversial about this season's victory, which saw Gentildonna produce a performance of determination, heart and spellbinding guts.
With Eishin Flash and Tosin Jordan setting a strong gallop through the early stages of the race, Gentildonna was perfectly positioned behind the leaders with clear running throughout. However, the four year old daughter of Deep Impact was marginally keen under her new jockey Ryan Moore, who excelled in ensuring that this did not hinder her finishing effort coming into the latter stages of the race.
As the leaders began to backtrack at the top of the stretch, Moore surged through in a manner that mirrored his effort in winning last month's Canadian International, splitting rivals and instantaneously creating a lead that he would have to grind with all his might to defend.
Ahead with just one furlong to go, Gentildonna would have to repel the late thrusting charge of a filly in waiting to her crown, Denim and Ruby, who made ground at an alarming rate with dead aim on the Japanese Champion. Denim and Ruby, like Gentildonna, had also been sired by the exceptional, rising sire Deep Impact.
However, defence is just one area of the perfect riding abilities that have been on show from Ryan Moore in what has been a scintillating and successful season across the globe, and at the line Moore had judged his finishing effort perfectly, ensuring that he would be victorious in the Japan Cup by the narrowest of nose margins on his first ride aboard Gentildonna.
Not only had Gentildonna created history in being the first horse to win two Japan Cups, she had also defended her crown in what was surprisingly her first victory of the year, a victory that provided Ryan Moore with his eighth Group I victory of the year across three continents in a season which started with the GII UAE Derby victory back in March.
Gold Ship, heavily fancied in some quarters after producing spellbinding performances throughout various points of this season, was towards the tail end of the field from the very start of the race, and despite looking as though he would threaten to deliver a challenge on the backstretch, the four year old was a shadow of himself eventually beating only two rivals home. Tosen Jordan, part of the early pace battle, would run a mighty race for William Buick to re-rally in the stretch and finish a neck behind in third. Craig Williams' trip to Japan from Australia would also go rewarded as he finished fourth aboard Admire Rakti, whilst Dunaden and Jamie Spencer produced an effort of some magnitude in bouncing back to his very best and finishing in fifth place, rewarding connections for their entry with a somewhat large pay check. Dunaden holds an entry in the GI Arima Kinen, yet it is unconfirmed as of yet whether the 2011 Melbourne Cup hero will take up that engagement, a race which had been chosen as the option for Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe second and third, Orfevre and Kizuna, ahead of this contest. Triple GI Canadian International hero Joshua Tree flattened out in the stretch to fade to last place.