Richard Mullen was a very happy man after the 2018 Dubai World Cup draw was announced on Wednesday.
The jockey, who will partner North America at one of the world's most prestigious races come Saturday, will start at Gate 2. Not long before the announcement was made, the British rider had made his wish clear - which was to start from Gate 1, or anywhere between Gates 1 and 5.
So the outcome turned out to be the near-perfect one for the UAE champion jockey.
“I’m very happy with the draw,” Mullen said. “When we discussed it this morning, I said to Satish [trainer Satish Seemar] that anything from 1 to 5 would be fine but I didn’t want to know if it was higher, so the [No] 2 stall is ideal.
"He [North America] is a natural front-runner, so I should be able to go forward."
Seemar, who works for Zabeel Stables, himself sounded bullish about North America's chances of winning the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) flagship race at Meydan Racecourse.
“That’s exactly what we wanted – 1, 2 or 3,” the Indian handler said. “I’m very positive. We’ve got everything right in his preparation so far, and now we have the perfect draw."
According to Seemar, the six-year-old bay son of Dubawi has yet to peak, "and he’ll do that on Saturday".
North America is sandwiched between Japanese raider Awardee on the inside and American runner Gunnevera on the outside, at Gates 1 and 3.
Godolphin are fielding two horses for the race: Talismanic and Thunder Snow jump out of Gates 7 and 10.
American trainer Bob Baffert is double-handed, too, with international favourite West Coast drawn at Gate 9 and Mubtaahij starting from Gate 5.
“I'm fine with both [draws],” the three-time Dubai World Cup winning trainer said. “Everybody wants the 1, but I do not. I've heard you have to be on the rail here as it's a speed-biased rail, but I think in a race of this magnitude, when you get all of these good horses together, all that changes.
"From the outside, if they break a little slow you're not going to get in trouble. From the inside if you break slow, you're going to be in trouble."
Baffert, whose horse Arrogate won the World Cup last year, said he was pleased his pair were drawn far apart from each other.
“I just didn't want them to draw next to each other. If they'd bump into each other or something else had happened, I'd hate be together," he said, before pointing out the result hinged more on the horse than the post.
“I don't think there's a really bad post when you're going a mile-and-a-quarter. The horse is the more important than the post so I'm fine with it. I'm looking forward to it.
“I think every trainer here hopes his horse runs his race and feels if he runs his race, you know you're going to be competitive," he added.
Godolphin racing manager Lisa-Jane Graffard refused to comment on the draw, with the Frenchwoman pointing out that it was up to the trainers and jockeys to devise the tactics. Talismanic, trained by Andre Fabre, will be ridden by Mickael Barzalona. Christophe Soumillon will be atop Thunder Snow, handled by Saeed bin Suroor.
“[Talismanic] trained well on the dirt at Del Mar [a racetrack in California],” Graffard said. “He's very adaptable with a great mind.”
Having to deal with the widest draw for Thunder Snow, Bin Suroor said he hoped for a good run for last year's UAE Derby winner.
“He’s doing good this year. The last time was disappointing but he came back really well. We’re really happy with him,” the Emirati trainer said.
Dallas Stewart was pleased Forever Unbridled would be starting at Gate 6. “Her energy is great. Her appetite is good. The post position should be fine. She’s comfortable, so I’m comfortable,” the American trainer said.
“It’s going to be a great race. She’s going to need to bring her best race to win this.”
More on Dubai World Cup
Andre Fabre's first DWC title hinges on Godolphin's Talismanic
Talismanic and Benbatl ready to lead Godolphin charge
North America a 'gentle giant' peaking at the right time
Bob Baffert banking on two horses in his bid to repeat history
Dallas Stewart fancies Forever Unbridled's chances to make history
Richard Mullen backs North America to prevail over American rivals