Long-shot Shonan Pandora stunned favorite Lovely Day to win the Japan Cup by a nose Sunday, keeping the trophy out of the hands of foreigners for a 10th successive year.
The four-year-old 9/1 bet produced an electrifying finish in the home straight to beat Last Impact and Lovely Day and become the seventh filly to win Japan's richest race, run over 2,400 meters on turf in Tokyo.
Shonan Pandora and Last Impact are both offspring of the beloved Japanese horse Deep Impact, a triple crown winner and winner of the Japan Cup in 2006.
Not since Frankie Dettori rode the British-trained Alkaased to victory in 2005 has a foreign horse won the cup, which has a total purse of around $5.2 million.
"The horse was in fantastic shape so I just tried to give it everything in the saddle," victorious jockey Kenichi Ikezoe told reporters after completing victory in two minutes, 24.7 seconds.
"Pandora was perfect today. We'd lost to Lovely Day before so we wanted revenge for that. It's an amazing feeling."
A serious overseas challenge failed to materialise from a field of 18, with the Irish colt Erupt, winner of the Grand Prix de Paris, the top foreign finisher in sixth.
Lovely Day came agonisingly close to capping a breakout 2015 likely to result in him being named Japanese horse of the year, before fading under intense late pressure from Shonan Pandora and Last Impact.© (c) 2015 AFP