It proved to be a fitting climax to a truly international occasion when Japanese horses Victoire Pisa and Transcend ran the quinella in the World’s richest race, the $US10 million Dubai World Cup (2000m), at Meydan on Saturday night (UAE time).
It was Japan’s first success in the coveted race, which was first run in 1996, and it provided a welcome release of emotion after what the Japanese have had to endure in their homeland over recent weeks.
Tears flowed freely as the connections led Victoire Pisa back to scale and it was sheer luck that the three Japanese horses that contested the World Cup had made it to Dubai in the first place.
They arrived in the UAE only two days before the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan with the area that includes their home stables at the Meiho Training Centre among the worst hit.
Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum was one of the first to congratulate the winning owners and he said later it showed that “you don’t give up and you must carry on.”
Victoire Pisa is trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, the man who also gave Japan its historic first Emirates Melbourne Cup with Delta Blues defeating countryman and stablemate Pop Rock in 2006.
Ridden by Italian jockey Marco Demuro who made a bold forward move in the middle stages when the pace was remarkably slow, Victoire Pisa won by a half length over Transcend with Monterosso a neck away third after a checkered passage in the straight.
The other Japanese runner, the highly rated Buena Vista, had to go back from her wide barrier and never got into the sit-sprint affair.
The overall time of 2:05.94 was more than four seconds outside the average time for the 2000-metre trip since the Meydan track was opened just over 12 months ago.
In other news, Luca Cumani’s enigmatic Presvis finally had things go his way after a string of unlucky defeats to land the $US5 million Group 1 Dubai Duty Free (1800m) on the same night.
The seven-year-old’s only style of racing is to settle rearward and be kept for one late run which is always fraught with danger and frustration for his connections, but the Tatts Cox Plate target had his moment in the sun in Dubai.
After falling out of the barriers two to three lengths behind his rivals, jockey Ryan Moore weaved Presvis through the field from the top of the straight to score a memorable victory.
“He’s got a wonderful sprint but he always needs luck getting through a field. Ryan seems to have the knack of getting the best out of him,” Cumani said.
Cumani said if Presvis was human he’d be a loner, “he just likes to do his own thing and it’s hard to keep him interested.”
Cumani said because Presvis now knew ‘every inch’ of his Newmarket training tracks he had to find new things to keep him interested.
“That’s why we’re taking him to Hong Kong and Singapore for his next two races (in April and May),” he explained.
The Group 2 UAE Derby (1900m) proved to be a classic contest between two of the world’s most famous stables with Godolphin’s filly Khawlah getting the nod by a nose over Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore’s Master Of Hounds in a stirring finish.
It was the first time in seven years that O’Brien had taken on Godolphin on its home turf and it was also the first time Godolphin had run a filly against the colts in a Derby.
The win of Khawlah gave highly promising French apprentice Mickael Barzalona his first taste of international success.
Barzalona, who looks much younger than his 19 years, is apprenticed to French trainer Andre Fabre but is now getting a lot of opportunities for Godolphin whose head trainer Saeed bin Suroor described him as a major talent in the making.