04/24/2016 2:55PM

Hong Kong: Werther much the best in Queen Elizabeth II Cup

Hong Kong Jockey Club
Werther, with Hugh Bowman aboard, wins the $2.57 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup by 4 1/2 lengths.

Werther, the winner of the Hong Kong Derby in March, scored the richest win of his career in Sunday’s $2.57 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong against an international field.

Ridden by Hugh Bowman, Werther (9-2) won by 4 1/2 lengths over 70-1 longshot Military Attack, the Hong Kong Horse of the Year in the 2012-13 season. Blazing Speed, a 24-1 outsider who won the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, finished third in the field of 13.

Lovely Day, based in Japan, finished fourth as the 9-5 favorite. Lovely Day won the Grade 1 Tenno Sho Autumn in Japan in 2015. Highland Reel, the winner of the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park last August for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, finished eighth.

The Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup was run at 1 1/4 miles on yielding turf. Werther stalked the pace before taking the lead with less than a quarter-mile remaining. Bowman said he tracked Lovely Day in early stretch.

“I was able to get on the back of Lovely Day,” he said. “I felt I was traveling well enough to follow the rhythm, wherever that was. He was certainly breathtaking when he went to the front.”

Werther, a 4-year-old New Zealand-bred by Tavistock, races for Johnson Chen and trainer John Moore. The Hong Kong Derby is a local Group 1, while the Queen Elizabeth II Cup is recognized as an international Group 1.

Moore said that Werther will have his next start in Hong Kong, but that a start in the Cox Plate in Australia in October is a possibility. Werther raced in New Zealand and Australia in 2014 and 2015, finishing second in the Group 1 South Australian Derby in May 2015.