They came from Europe and Asia, South Africa and neighbouring Saudi Arabia, but the ruling Maktoum family dominated the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, saw horses in his colours finish first and third, courtesy of African Story and Cat O’Mountain respectively.
And his brother, Sheikh Hamdan, watched as Mukhadram split the pair.
African Story was a revelation, stalking front-running Mukhadram from the outset before sweeping past with 200 metres left to run.
The horse who finished fifth in this race 12 months ago looked a different proposition this time, stopping the clock in a track record 2min1.61s under Silvestre De Sousa.
Side Glance and Akeed Mofeed filled fourth and fifth but Military Attack and Ruler Of The World who were both expected to feature prominently, finished 10th and 12th.
Red Cadeaux, which chased home Animal Kingdom in the race 12 months ago, again ran well to finish sixth.
Even though he had won the race five times previously, victory meant a lot to the winning trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, who trains exclusively for Sheikh Mohammed and his family.
“I hadn’t trained the winner (of this race) for seven years and I felt a lot of pressure from a lot of people,” Bin Suroor said.
“I thought African Story was the right horse for this race two years ago and I told that to the boss.”
For De Sousa, who was retained by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin enterprise 14 months ago, it was the biggest victory of his career.
“It’s so special to win this race,” De Sousa said.
“It’s a dream come true. I’m over the moon.”
Mukhadram’s jockey, Paul Hanagan, briefly entertained hopes of victory when he asked his mount to accelerate on reaching the home straight.
“For a moment I thought we’d stolen it but we were beaten by a very good horse on the night,” he said.
African Story’s bid to win the Dubai World Cup came after a flurry of runners owned by the Al Maktoum family failed to meet expectations in the previous seven races for thoroughbreds.
In a cosmopolitan gathering of horses from around the globe, runners from Hong Kong and Japan won two races each, with horses from Britain, Ireland and South Africa also getting in on the winning act.
African Story is unlikely to contest the major races in Europe when Bin Suroor transfers his string from Dubai to Newmarket next month.
The seven-year-old is considered a specialist on the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan.