Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup Preview

Another big weekend of Group 1 racing in Japan and we head to Hanshin for the QEII over 2200m for fillies and mares.

Originally the third leg of the fillies' triple crown, the Japanese variant of the QEII became what it is today in 1996, with some well-known globetrotters on the honour roll, none more so than Cox Plate winning superstar Lys Gracieux who won the race in 2018.

Her 118 rating was around the average for recent winners, however she'd go on to rate 125 in the Takarazuka Kinen and Cox Plate before cementing herself as elite with a 5 length win in the Arima Kinen which rated 129.

Lucky Lilac rated 120 in both of her wins in 2020 and 2019 which seems the benchmark for this race, and going back to 2010 and 2011 we saw Ryan Moore and Ed Dunlop combine with the much loved Snow Fairy rating 126 and 124+ in her two wins.

This year's edition is an intriguing one and seemingly centres around the 2020 triple crown winner Daring Tact.

Rated 117 after just three starts off her Oka Sho (1000 Guineas) win, she ran to 124 in the 2020 Japan Cup, beaten 1.55L by star mare Almond Eye with Contrail in second.

She hasn't quite recaptured that form and especially in her last two preparations, her best rating was 113 behind Titleholder in this year's Takarazuka Kinen, beaten 4 lengths. She was well beaten by Geraldina first up at Group 2 level at $2.00 and will need to improve sharply to be winning this.

Speaking of Geraldina, her win over Daring Tact and co at Nakayama was a new peak rating of 115, suggesting she may be starting to live up to her elite breeding. By Maurice out of Gentildonna (Deep Impact), she'd likely need to improve another length to be winning the QEII but is on the right path.

The three-year-old filly Stunning Rose brings the best last start rating into the race having rated 117 when winning the Shuka Sho at Hanshin. That equalled her peak when second to Stars On Earth in the Yushun Himba. That filly, who was desperately unlucky in the Shuka Sho, unfortunately isn't here and likely would've been the horse to beat.

Stunning Rose had all the favours last start with the fillies form looking a touch shaky, but goes in as one of the leading chances by default.

One that does interest me is Win Marilyn, who brings a different form line to this having run third against the boys first up in the Sapporo Kinen behind Jack D'Or and Panthalassa, which looks very strong form on paper after they ran 4th and 2nd in the Tenno Sho behind Equinox.

Win Marilyn rated 114 there and sat 3rd behind a fast pace set by Panthalassa and has rated better in the past. A peak of 118 when second to Daring Tact in the Oaks, as well as when fourth in this race two years ago, she has to be considered a big chance of recording her first Group 1 victory.

Akai Ito won this race last year in a well below average edition, running to just 116 despite the 2-length margin. Since then, she's struggled for form and was well beaten first up at Tokyo by Izu Jo No Kiseki, who has won her last two but would need to go to another level to win here.

We got the cash with Stunning Rose here last time, but I think she was blessed in run and Stars On Earth should've won. The fillies' form looks a bit shaky and I'll be looking elsewhere.

Daring Tact is the best horse in the race but hasn't found anywhere near it for a long time now and it's hard to come price depending.

I think Win Marilyn might be the one. The Sapporo form against the boys is lengths better than the fillies form and she can rate better. She gets the services of Damian Lane who won his first ride back in Japan at Tokyo on Saturday and will be looking for his fourth Japanese Group 1 win.

Queen Elizabeth II Cup

Tip: #13 Win Marilyn @ $12/3.8

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