The Big Race: 2014 Dubai World Cup is an African Story

March 30, 2014

Dubai, UAE -- For a while, the 2014 Dubai World Cup night belonged to horses with Asian connections, but the Big Race ultimately was written by African Story.

Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of African Story and the signature trainer at Godolphin, notched his sixth victory in the 2014 Dubai World Cup in a field that lacked marquee American horses.  Brazil’s Silvestre de Sousa set a new track record atop the 7-year-old gelding who went to the posts a 12-1 longshot.  In addition to the victory, African Story shaved more than a second off the 2012 track record held by Monterosso.

Ruler Of The World was fourth out of the initial straight, but quickly fell behind. Ruler Of The World was this year’s favorite and popular with many casual fans at the Meydan who were unaware the horse had no experience with the type of synthetic Tapeta track used at the Meydan. The DSH has learned over the years from its coverage of the Dubai World Cup that a horse unfamiliar with the Tapeta track is exactly the type which can have trouble at the Meydan.

Ruler Of The World was bought by Qatari interests days prior to the World Cup and was one of two Qatari horses in the Dubai World Cup, part of an increasing sports rivalry between the UAE and Qatar.

The DSH pick in the main event, Hong Kong Gold Cup winner Military Attack ridden by Joao Moreira, also failed to finish in the money.  Without the presence of marquee American horses, the normal rivalry between Americans and Emirati horses was supplanted by the rivalry between Hong Kong and Japanese horses.

Both Asian powerhouses took two apiece headed into the finale, yet it was Dubai’s own Godolphin stables which won the night’s highest profile prize, the 10 million dollar Dubai World Cup.

Hong Kong horses won the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m on turf) with Amber Sky, and in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m on the main Tapeta lined track) Sterling City and Rich Tapestry ran away with the victories.

Meanwhile, Japanese horses scored two wins as well. First with Gentildonna in the 2,400m $5 million Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, though the result was disputed down to the wire.  Japan’s Just A Way then held off all comers in the $5 million Group 1 Dubai Duty Free a 1800m turf race.

Sterling City co-owner Gary Ling Kay Wai excitedly told the DSH moments before the Dubai World Cup, “It’s 2-2 Japan and Hong Kong tonight . . . and if you’ll excuse me I have to make another bet.”

The other drama came in the eighth race of the evening when jockey Richard Hughes, riding atop Mars in the Dubai Sheema Classic, was thrown from his mount and stayed down until medical assistance arrived.  Soon after, the DSH saw him in a wheelchair with an apparent leg injury furiously typing into his white iPhone two tweets, “All OK with me, very lucky escape,” and later, “injury uncertain but I’m grand.”

The Dubai Sheema Classic was the final preparatory race before the Big Race. It was indeed another grand night at the Meydan with most of the crowd also taking in the accompanying Jennifer Lopez concert after the race.

Lopez opened her act with her classic “Jenny from the Block.”  In that song, the Lopez notes she’s “still Jenny from the Block,” and likewise, the Dubai World Cup is still the most exciting night in horse racing.

By Joseph Hammond
Contributing Writer for

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