Japan’s Victoire Pisa has won the Dubai World Cup overtaking Transcend to win the world’s richest horse race and offer hope to a country struggling to recover from twin disasters.
From the moment they arrived at Meydan Racecourse, the three Japanese horses entered in the $US10 million ($A9.8 million) race came to serve as potent reminders of a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that has left more than 10,400 dead and more than 17,000 listed as missing.
The victory was the first for a Japanese horse in the Dubai World Cup.
Trainers of several horses, including Victoire Pisa, talked of stables left in shambles by the tsunami and many of the Japanese teams wore black polo shirts with the word “hope” on the sleeve alongside Japan’s flag and the date of the double-disaster on the back.
The surprise win prompted an emotional scene as supporters of Victoire Pisa broke down as the national anthem was played.
The horse’s trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said he hoped the victory would lift the spirits of survivors who face the monumental task of rebuilding their communities.
“Knowing there are horses and people affected by the tsunami or lost their lives, I knew there may be something I could do to give back with a win or by performing well in this race,” Sumii said.
“That is something I strongly feel.
“This victory won’t change people’s lives but I do hope that in some way I will give back to the horse riding and horse racing community in Japan.”
Things didn’t start well for Victoire Pisa who was off the pace after bumping his head on the starting gate.
Instead, it was the lesser-known of the trio, Transcend, who stormed out and held the lead for much of the race, with Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco and long shot Monterosso coming on.
In the home straight, Victoire Pisa went wide and broke from the pack to beat Transcend by half a length with Monterosso was third.
“I was just watching at the back straight and saw the other Japanese one was in front and then Buena Vista was close to me,” jockey Mirco Demuro said. “We were lucky. In the back straight, there was a slow pace so I could move from outside and come to the lead.”
Demuro, an Italian whose success has mostly come in Japan with victories in the Japan Derby and Japan Cup, said this was “his biggest” win yet and hoped it would raise his profile.
“I can explain to the people I am a good jockey. I always try to do my best,” he said.
“But when you stay in Italy, it’s not easy to go around in the world.”
The Dubai World Cup was the highlight of the eight-race card that featured 110 horses racing for $US26.25 million ($A25.74 million).
Three of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed’s horses won at the meeting led by Rewilding who blew away the field in the $5 million Sheema Classic.
Ridden by Franki Dettori, Rewilding came from behind, passing Rulership of Japan and then outrunning the field with 250 metres to go, beating the Saudi-owned Redwood by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
A second victory for Godolphin came in the $2 million UAE Derby, in which Khawlah barely edged Master of Hounds while the third came in the $1 million Godolphin Mile won by Skysurfers.
In the other Group One races, Presvis came from the back of the pack to win the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, edging out River Jetez and Wigmore Hall.
Singapore star Rocket Man stormed to victory in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, a year after being upset by Kinsale King in the same race.
Kinsale King was withdrawn this year after suffering swelling in his legs and rashes on his face and body.
AP AAP TURF