Japan claimed a first ever victory in the Dubai World Cup as Victoire Pisa led home a one-two for the nation at Meydan yesterday.
Connections of the colt were quick to pay tribute to their countrymen as they recover from the troubles of the earthquake and tsunami amid emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure after he finished half a length in front of Transcend.
There was again to be disappointment for Henry Cecil, whose favourite Twice Over failed to sparkle in the desert again to finish ninth, having been 10th last year after a less promising preparation.
Trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said: “I didn’t think we would win until the very end.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have runners in the Dubai Duty Free and the Sheema Classic, but to win the biggest race is unbelievable.
“In this time when Japan is going through a tough time, I felt the whole country was behind me.”
Seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year, this could be on the agenda again, with Royal Ascot and the QE II Cup in Hong Kong also under consideration.
Winning jockey, the Italian Mirco Demuro, who has been riding in Japan for the last 13 years, added: “I’ve won the Japan Cup and the Italian Derby but this is the best race I’ve won.
“He’s a horse who normally gets a good start, but he banged his head on the stalls and had a bad start. I was lucky on the back straight because the pace was slow and I closed in on the leader.
“When I was an apprentice, Frankie Dettori was already Frankie Dettori and I’ve got a long way to go to be as good as him.”
Mahmood Al Zarooni saddled Allybar to finish third last year and he felt Monterosso was a little unlucky as took the same position.
For Cecil, it was back to square one.
“They went very slowly early and that didn’t suit him,” he said. “He broke well and was up there but couldn’t get back in. The next minute they slowed it up and he got shuffled back through the field.
“He never got anywhere and it is disappointing, but that is the way it goes. Tom (Queally) said he was pushed wide and out of the back.
“It is such a shame as he was very well.”
Aidan O’Brien was thrilled with Cape Blanco, who was fourth on his first run of the year.
O’Brien said: “He ran a stormer and we are really delighted, especially as it was his first run of the season.
“Hopefully he is staying with me and we will be able to run him in the big races during the summer.”