04/30/2017 1:54PM

Neorealism holds off late challenge in QE II Cup

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The Japanese shipper Neorealism held off a late run from Pakistan Star to win Sunday’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong.

The $2.5 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup at 1 1/4 miles on turf was the fourth of five wins on the 10-race program for leading jockey Joao Moreira.

Neorealism (7-2) overcame a slow start to take the lead with a half-mile remaining and was fully extended to hold off 9-5 Pakistan Star, who was beaten a neck.

“We thought he was going to be able to lead, but as he (broke) a little bit slowly I had to give him a chance to get cover behind horses,” Moreira told Hong Kong publicity. “The pace slowed so much on the back straight, so I had to pop out and get going.

“He got going, but he wasn’t at his top speed, so I was always confident that once we turned for home he was going to finish off strongly, which he did. It actually worked out pretty good, because I was able to get him relaxed initially.”

Werther, who won the 2016 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, finished third as the even-money favorite, beaten a half-length by Neorealism in the field of eight.

Neorealism won the Grade 2 Nakayama Kinen at 1 1/8 miles on turf in February in Japan. Trained by Noriyuki Hori for U Carrot Farm, Neorealism is the first Japan-based winner of the race since Rulership in 2012.

A 6-year-old, Neorealism won the Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen in Japan last year, and was third in the Grade 1 Mile Championship last November. Neorealism was ninth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin last December.

Sunday’s 10-race program handled approximately $184.3 million, a record for the day, according to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.