African Story proved the catalyst for the Meydan grandstand to erupt on Saturday evening as Saeed bin Suroor’s Godolphin runner streaked away with the 19th running of the US$10m Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates.
The trainer was winning the world’s richest race for a sixth time and provided HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with a seventh triumph.
Bin Suroor had failed to lift the trophy since Electrocutionist scored at Nad Al Sheba in 2006 and African Story was the long-standing handler’s first win in the race at the imposing Meydan Racecourse.
Silvestre de Sousa was never worse than second aboard the 7y/o who pulled 2 1/2-lengths clear down the stretch to see off the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Mukhadram who valiantly tried to make all under Paul Hanagan.
The ruling Maktoum family enjoyed a terrific podium finish with Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Cat O’Mountain overcoming his outside stall disadvantage to finish third.
“This is our sixth win in the race and it has been a long time in coming,” said bin Suroor. “There has been a lot of pressure from a lot of people, but I thought two years ago this was the right horse for this race. In my heart I thought this horse could win – he is something really special and I told Sheikh Mohammed this two years ago.
“This is a big thrill and I dedicate this win to my mother and I will give her my golden whip.”
De Sousa had failed to frame on his two previous Dubai World Cup rides but struck lucky at the third attempt, and said: “It turned into a perfect race for me as I only had one horse in front of me. I knew I had to get past him quick and it was a big relief when I went clear.
“African Story has good track form having won the Godolphin Mile two years ago. He travelled well and quickened great and I am over the moon.
“There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best and that there may still be more to come."
British raider Mukhadram tracked across from stall 15 under Paul Hanagan and appeared as though he had stolen a march on the field turning for home, only to be run down by African Story.
Hanagan commented: “I am very proud of him and it was a tremendous effort from William Haggas to have him ready to run after such a long layoff.
“We went forward and I got a breather in to him down the back straight. We kicked at the top of the home run and for a moment I thought I had nicked it but in the end we were beaten by a very good horse on the night.”
Similarly pleased was Mikael Barzalona who rode Cat O’Mountain, and commented: “He ran a blinder from where he was drawn and could have been closer but for that.”
The Hong Kong and Japanese raiders all failed to get involved while Derby winner, Ruler Of The World weakened back to 13th of the 16 runners with connections reporting he failed to handle the all-weather track.