THE Dubai World Cup boasts the title of the richest race in the world and African Story made sure the £3.6 million prize stayed at home as he triumphed in the Meydan feature.
It was the sixth time Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor had saddled the winner and, while African Story had not looked an obvious contender, he was ridden with perfection by Silvestre de Sousa to wear down the front-running Mukhadram halfway down the straight. The 12-1 chance had stretched well clear by the line, while the Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World, uneasy in the betting and with a poor draw, was struggling from some way out under Joseph O’Brien.
It was a landmark moment for De Sousa, who said: “It’s an amazing feeling, one of absolute delight. Godolphin called me to ask me to join their team and I was privileged to accept. Saeed thought African Story was a great horse. He was at his absolute best. I had to pinch myself because of how well he was travelling.
“I got to track the leader on his outside and then, in the straight, all I had to do was take aim. In my first season I managed 25 winners and then I missed out on the championship by just four. Obviously this is a big move in my career, riding for Godolphin. There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best.”
Japanese representatives had a fine meeting with Ryan Moore keeping his cool to guide Japanese mare Gentildonna to victory in a rough Dubai Sheema Classic and Just A Way (3-1 favourite) proving in another league in the Dubai Duty Free. Moore won the Japan Cup on Gentildonna (4-1) and last year’s runner-up, trained by Sei Ishizaka, moved well but appeared to get cut up by Cirrus Des Aigles when about to make her move and needed to be snatched up for another effort. She still had enough time to get her head in front, and she quickened past the French veteran inside the final 100 yards, while Roger Varian’s Ambivalent collected third.
Just A Way had earlier stretched six and a quarter lengths clear of Vercingetorix in an astounding track-record time. Jamie Spencer had an epic night, helping 33-1 chance Certerach cause a big upset in the Dubai Gold Cup, after which he paired up with Jamie Osborne’s horse-of-a-lifetime Toast Of New York in the UAE Derby.
Toast Of New York (11-1) was certainly not the most fashionable of runners, having picked up two events at Wolverhampton, but drew two-and-a-half lengths ahead of Asmar.
Closer to home, Ocean Tempest notched a surprise 20-1 success in the William Hill Lincoln as he beat Tullius by a length-and-three-quarters. David O’Meara saddled third and fourth with Robert The Painter and Sweet Lightning.
Winning trainer John Ryan said: “It’s been a dream to win a big race like this. We’re a small stable, we have 20 horses in training, we always average more than that in winners. We backed him (available at 33-1 shortly before the off). I was confident because I thought he was relatively fresh.”
Richard Fahey’s Brae Hill (10-1) had finished second, first and third in the last three Lincolns but had to settle for winning the consolation Spring Mile this year while Cock Of The North sprang a 14-1 surprise for trainer Scott Dixon and 7lb claiming apprentice Matthew Hopkins in the opening race of the season, the William Hill Download The App Brocklesby Conditions Stakes.