Bren O’Brien



Geraldina follows in Gentildonna’s giant steps

Geraldina has emulated her famous dam Gentildonna with a Group 1 victory of her own, charging home under Cristian Demuro to win the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hanshin.

Expectation always followed the Takashi Saito-trained Geraldina given her sire Maurice and dam Gentildonna won 13 G1 races between them, and she got her chance on Sunday to show her Group 1 class, relishing the yielding track conditions to win the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. 

It was a well-timed ride by Cristian Demuro, who produced the four-year-old for her run at the top of the straight just as Rosa Noir and Katsuharu Tanaka had kicked clear. 

Win Marilyn, ridden by Damian Lane, was the first challenger to the leader, but Geraldina had the momentum to overwhelm her and claim the sixth and most significant win of her career by a one-and-three-quarter lengths margin. 

Outsider Lilac, ridden by Demuro’s brother Mirco, finished off strongly and dead-heated for second with Win Marilyn, while it was another 2.5 lengths back to last year’s winner, Akai Ito, who finished in a creditable fourth, just ahead of Namur. 

Race favourite Daring Tact was sixth, but never a serious threat, while G1 Shuka Sho winner Stunning Rose, the second favourite, was well-beaten in 14th. 

It was a second Japanese Group 1 winner, and fourth elite level winner overall for Geraldina’s sire Maurice, while it was the crowning moment of Gentildonna’s post-racing career.  

The superstar mare won seven elite races, including two Japan Cups, in the same Sunday Racing colours, while Gentildonna’s dam Donna Blini was also a Group 1 winner, meaning Geraldina becomes the third generation of her family to win at the highest level. 

It’s a 22nd global Group 1 success for Demuro, whose last top-level win in Japan came four years ago, while it’s a seventh career Group 1 victory for Saito, and his first of 2022. 

For the trainer and her Sunday Racing owners the win was a reward for taking time with the blueblood filly, who won once as a two-year-old and then three times as a three-year-old. She recorded her first stakes placing when second in the G3 Naruo Kinen in June this year. She was then third in the G3 Kokura Kinen in August before rising to prominence with her win in the G2 All Comers at Nakayama in September. 

Sunday’s race win was also made memorable by the bold tactics of Rosa Noir, who was keen to make it a test of stamina. With Irish Oaks winner Magical Lagoon on his outside, jockey Tanaka wound up the pace and the Irish contender was under pressure and a spent force before they turned for home. Having received a stern lesson about the heat of elite Japanese races, she would finish last of the 18-strong field. 

Rosa Noir did give a good kick for home and while many in the field could not respond to the increase in tempo, Win Marilyn loomed quickly coming into the straight.  

Demuro and Geraldina had sat three-wide throughout but with cover on the back of Terzetto and they came widest on the bend, but with momentum on their side. Win Marilyn’s challenge was eventually overwhelmed inside the final 100 metres, leaving Demuro to soak up a famous victory. 




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