x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Demuro expects to dazzle nation with more brilliance

Winner of 2011 Dubai World Cup wants to ride here all season.

Last year’s Dubai World Cup was more than just a race for Mirco Demuro.
Last year’s Dubai World Cup was more than just a race for Mirco Demuro.

The split-second decision that won Mirco Demuro the 2011 Dubai World Cup is generally acknowledged to be nothing short of brilliant.

Before they were even round the first bend, the jockey, realising that he would have no chance from his position at the back of the ambling field, pulled Victoire Pisa out wide and powered him into second place. From there he was able to steam past the leader, Transcend, in the home stretch.

Yet the man himself said the move, which claimed him the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) contest, has only been labelled "brilliant" because it worked out.

"It was a very good ride but it's difficult to say it was my best ride ever because I made my decision this time and it was good timing," said Demuro, who is riding in this week's Meydan Masters jockey championship. "If you win, these decisions look very clever but if you do something like that in a race and you lose then you can look a bit stupid."

Demuro certainly did not look stupid when he rode into the winner's enclosure on Victoire Pisa, the Japanese contender, on World Cup night.

He did look emotional though.

Two weeks after Japan had been hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, Demuro had given the racing-mad country something to smile about, even if it was only a horse race.

The fact that a second Japanese runner, Transcend, had finished just behind him was cause for double celebration and hugely emotional scenes played out in the parade ring among the delighted Japanese connections.

"It was an amazing and very emotional night," said the Italian rider, who learned to speak Japanese during his years in the country. "It was incredible to win such a big race and to win at such a time for Japan. It was the biggest race I have ever won and the memory of that evening will stay with me forever."

Demuro is no stranger to winning big races. When the Italian first popped up on the racing scene in 1994, the charismatic youngster inevitably drew comparisons to his compatriot, Frankie Dettori.

He had just won his first race at age 15 and, like Dettori, was from a racing family. But whereas Dettori chose to further his career in England's home of racing, Newmarket, Rome-born Demuro remained in Italy.

The year after his maiden win, Demuro was crowned champion apprentice and went on to become Italy's champion jockey an impressive five times.

Then, in 2000, he made the decision to focus his energies on riding in Japan and slipped somewhat into obscurity as far as the wider racing world was concerned.

In Japan, however, Demuro was becoming a star.

He broke the record for a jockey riding on a short-term licence with 35 wins in 2000/01, and became the first non-Japanese jockey to win the Japan Derby when guiding Neo Universe to a half-length victory over Zenno Rob Roy in 2003. He also enjoyed successful stints in the USA, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

"I have always liked to travel and to experience racing in different countries," said Demuro, who has won 30 Group or Grade victories so far, including 17 at the highest level. "I have been all over the world, riding at different tracks and I have been very lucky in my career."

With his World Cup win last year and his recent declaration that he would like to ride in the UAE all season, it seems certain that we will be hearing a lot more from Demuro.