Maybe Sir Michael Stoute wanted to get the bad taste left by Crystal Ocean’s recent tough defeat suffered by the length of Enable’s neck in the mile and a half Group 1 King George Queen Elizabeth at Ascot.
So Stoute entered his five year old back in York’s Juddmonte International less than a month after that recent grueling stretch battle. But the Juddmonte is at 10 furlongs with a faster pace, just another Group 1 that all the best horses point for.
Include the Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan among them.
And now Crystal Ocean has been through two hard fought head-to-head battles, a run in which he looked a winner when he separated himself briefly from his eight rivals with about a furlong remaining.
But Japan was in good striking position, he surged, and it appeared that he would go by routine fashion.
But Crystal Ocean fought back, looking for an instant that he would out-eyeball his rival, but everything caught up with him in those final, desperate jumps, resulting in another heart-breaking loss.
The upset wasn’t completely unexpected, however. Japan and King Comedy, representing the Gosden/Dettori team that had won the Group 2 Great Voltigeur a half-hour earlier, were both heavily backed, co-second choices at 7-2 to Crystal Ocean’s 4-5.
And this time, the money was smart.