Dubai World Cup night: Joao Moreira had a good feeling ahead of Dubai Turf victory aboard Vivlos
DUBAI // When Joao Moreira first sat on Vivlos at trackwork on Friday, the one thing he noted more than any other was that when the Japanese filly stretched out she had a beautiful stride.
How that stride worked to their advantage on Saturday when Vivlos chased French raider Heshem to win the Dubai Turf.
Vivlos flew past in the closing stages and got up by half a length with Godolphin’s Ribchester another half a length back in third.
The Brazilian jockey is one of the best in the world and the timing of his run had a similar precision to the watches crafted by the sponsors Longines.
“She was brilliant,” he said. “From the time that I sat on top of her on Friday she gave me the feel that she was going to be very competitive. I thank all of the connections for letting me get on top of her today.”
Halfway through the race it seemed victory was a fairly remote proposition.
William Buick led from the outset aboard Ribchester, while Zarak, who had course and distance form having won the Dubai Millennium Stakes last month, was slotted in behind by Christophe Soumillon as he sought his third win of the night.
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Silvestre de Sousa, who was having a rare outing in Godolphin silks, drove Very Special to the front entering the turn but coming in to the straight she started to fade. With 300 metres left to run Ribchester was still going and he assumed the lead and was flanked by Zarak on the rail and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Mutakayyef on his outside.
Moreira eased Vivlos into the clear off the inside to avoid not only the heavy traffic but also the tiring runners and set sail for the winning post. With 100 metres to go Heshem had beaten off the tiring Ribchester but Vivlos’s challenge proved irresistible.
“The connections told me I should have been closer than I was, but I was confident in what I was doing,” Moreira said. “There was a tailwind, and when we straightened up I pulled her out because she was timid on the inside.
“I had looked after here during the early part of the race so when we got to the 200 metres, I was confident we were going to win. She was just dashing home and I thought she would win easily.”
If the ice-cool Moreira was confident, then owner Kazuhiro Sasaki certainly was not. Sasaki should have known how to deal with pressure during those final stages because in another lifetime he was a professional baseball player, who even plied his trade as a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners from 2000 to 2013.
International thoroughbred racing has a special draw, however, and after Vivlos had joined previous Japanese winners Admire Moon, Just A Way and Real Steel on the roll of honour Sasaki revealed how he had felt during those dying strides.
“I am really happy,” he said in a post-race news conference. “Doing this media is fine but the race was much more stressful than being a baseball player!”
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