DUBAI // Japan's Victoire Pisa has got the big prize, winning the $10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup by half a length, capturing the world's richest horse race and bring cheer to the disaster-ravaged country.
Three Japanese horses were entered in Saturday's race, and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami clearly were on the minds of the owners and trainers. Many wore polo shirts with the word "Hope" on the sleeve and the date of the double-disaster on the back.
Transcend was the lesser-known of the trio. It stormed out of the gate and led much of the way, with Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco and long-shot Monterosso coming on.
As the horses headed down the stretch, Victoire Pisa broke from pack to beat Transcend. Monterosso was third.
Winning rider Mirco Demuro was overcome with emotion following his victory. He said: "It's unbelievable. It's just unbelievable to win the Dubai World Cup for Japan."
The owner Yoshimi Ichikawa said: "It is a great souvenir to take back to Japan. I was very worried during the race as I didn't know what would happen.
"I really appreciate the support we have had from all the people in Japan."
Rewilding turned on the speed down the stretch to win the $5 million (Dh18m) Dubai Sheema Classic, handing Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Godolphin Stables a third victory.
Dangerous Midge of England raced to an early lead Saturday but was passed by Rulership, which held a slim lead at the halfway point. But the Japanese horse faded down the stretch as favorite Rewilding outran the field over the final 250 yards to beat the Saudi-owned Redwood by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
It was the second win of the day for jockey Frankie Dettori and a third for Godolphin, which saw Khawlah win the UAE Derby and Skysurfer take the Godolphin Mile.
Presvis came from the back of the pack to win the $5 million (Dh18m) Dubai Duty Free, edging out River Jetez and Wigmore Hall.
In a tight race, Beauty Flash of Hong Kong took the early lead, while StrawberryDaiquiri of Qatar was at the front of a packed field at the bend. River Jetez then pushed ahead with 300 meters to, before Presvis and three-time British champion jockey Ryan Moore burst through the middle to win by three-quarters of a length. The Mike de Kock-trained River Jetez was second followed by Wigmore Hall.
Rocket Man stormed to a two-and-a-quarter-length victory over Euroears in the $2million Dubai Golden Shaheen, a year after being upset by Kinsale King in the same race.
Dim Sum got out early but was overtaken by the Bob Baffert-trained Euroears. But favorite Rocket Man came home strongly, passing Euroears with 200 meters to go.
Kinsale King, expected to challenge Rocket Man again this year, was scratched before the race after developing swelling in its legs and a rash on its body and face.
Khawlah has won the $2-million (Dh7.4m) UAE Derby, barely edging Master of Hounds to hand a second victory to the stables of Dubai's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
Khawlah's stablemate Xin Xu Lin set the pace early before handing it over to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Master of Hounds. But the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Khawlah came on down the stretch, catching Master of Hounds and then winning by a nose in a photo finish. Mike de Kock’s filly, Mahbooba was third under Christophe Soumillon, three and a half lengths back.
It was the seventh victory for Suroor in the UAE Derby and the first for a filly in the race's history. It followed Skysurfers win in the $1-million Godolphin Mile earlier in the day. Both Skysurfer and Khawlah are owned by Mohammed's Godolphin stables.
Frankie Dettori steered Skysurfers to victory in the Godolphin Mile to give Godolphin their seventh victory in the race. Skysurfers was drawn wide in stall 13, but the Italian managed to negotiate a position three horses wide of the rail and coaxed his mount in to a decent rhythm.
Only Richard Hills, aboard Mufarrh, put up any resistance before Dettori swept past to win by half a length. “Mufarrh made me work but we got there in the end,” Dettori said.
Amith Passela send the first update: Seraphin Du Paon underlined his status as the country’s top Arabian purebred by winning the Kahayla Classic yesterday, the traditional opening race of the Dubai World Cup meeting.
The five-year-old, owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE, came with a trademark late run under Olivier Peslier, the French jockey, to win by a length from Nieshan with No Risk Al Maury a further one-and-a-half length behind in third.
The son of Akbar also won the Dh1 million President’s Cup in the capital last month and his victory in the Kahayla Classic is the eighth success for an Abu Dhabi owner in the 16 stagings of the Arabian showpiece. The President’s Cup and the Kahayla Classic are the two biggest races in the country for purebred Arabians, both in terms of prestige and money.
* With agencies