Godolphin’s American-based raider Mystic Guide proved himself a champion at Meydan on Saturday night when capturing the 2021 $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) Sponsored by Emirates Airline.
The four-year-old had risen through the ranks across the Atlantic and was veteran trainer Mike Stidham’s first ever overseas runner when lining up in the 2000m showpiece.
Jockey Luis Saez tracked front runner Hypothetical before taking the lead 400m from home and forging clear aboard Mystic Guide, a Godolphin homebred son of Ghostzapper who had arrived on the back of an impressive warm-up win in the Grade 3 Razorback at Oaklawn Park.
Japanese raider Chuwa Wizard stayed on to take second, three and three-quarter lengths behind the winner, with Godolphin’s French-based representative Magny Cours running on into third, another length and a quarter further back. The winning time was 2:01:61.
There was an eventful preliminary to the race with Great Scot being withdrawn after dropping jockey Frankie Dettori and Military Law also taken out of the field after breaking out of the stalls.
Saez said: “Our plan worked out. To break well, get a position and then I knew he would give me that kick at the top of the straight – and he did. I didn’t want to be too far back and I just asked him turning for home and he kicked. The plan worked out perfectly. He’s a young horse and last time I rode him I knew he was a Group 1 winner.
“Today he proved he is a champion and I know he is going to get better and better. What a nice horse, he has all the ability. It’s an honour for me. This was my dream as a little kid and I can’t believe I’m here now. It’s a dream come true.
“He was a little nervous before the race and in the post-parade, but he does that sometimes and I wasn’t too worried. He is just a very talented horse and it is amazing to win this race. I can’t believe it.”
For Stidham, who saddled his first winner in 1980, it was the pinnacle of his training career.
“I want to start by giving my condolences on the passing of Sheikh Hamdan,” said Stidham. “This was a special night. You’re seeing 40 years of emotions right now.
“I am so happy to be here and the horse performed to his capability. It’s a beautiful thing. He was getting antsy in the parade ring and then with a loose horse it made it more difficult, then we had to load a couple times. It was a little scary at the start but he stayed relaxed.
Mystic Guide Wins Dubai World Cup
“All that added to the concerns. He gets a little tough and doesn’t like being restrained a lot. I saddled him outside the stall because he was getting a little antsy in the stall. With all of that that went on, I was really concerned, like I said, but he overcame it.
“I got a good feeling when I saw him lying in third on the backside then down the lane it was amazing. I’m so proud to be here on the 25th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup for Sheikh Mohammed and the sky’s the limit for this horse. We’d love to come back next year, I’ll know the lay of the land better then!”
It was a 9th Dubai World Cup win for Godolphin and a 12th trained in the USA.
Rebel’s Romance Takes UAE Derby
Rebel’s Romance (IRE) realised the promise that his connections hoped he would when the son of Dubawi ran out an emphatic winner of the US $750,000 UAE Derby Sponsored by Emirates NBD.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, ridden by William Buick and carrying the familiar blue colours of Godolphin, Rebel’s Romance opened up a world of opportunities for himself when coming from off the pace to reel in the front-running Panadol and draw an impressive five and a half lengths clear as they flashed past the winning post.
The colt earned 100 points as the UAE Derby was a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.
It was a first UAE Derby success for Appleby and Buick and a first success on the night for Godolphin. Charlie Appleby admitted talk of a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby next was “a nice conversation to be having” after Rebel’s Romance put his first career defeat in Saudi Arabia behind him in the best possible fashion and looks set to be a horse who will write many more headlines in 2021.
This UAE Derby success certainly looks set to be a springboard to a bright future for Rebel’s Romance with Appleby saying after the race: “We’ll be working back from the Dubai World Cup next year” when speaking about future plans.
Rebel’s Romance Takes UAE Derby
Reflecting on his latest big race win on Dubai World Cup night, Appleby said: “He is still very much a work in progress and he looked much better tonight than he did in Saudi Arabia. I think the biggest attribute to him today is that he was going to stay. We were always confident he was going to stay. Stepping up in trip was going to be his forte.”
Rebel’s Romance had won both his starts in Britain on the all-weather surfaces at Newcastle and then Kempton late last year before beginning a lucrative campaign by winning the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan back in January.
Appleby continued: “We’ve all seen year-in and year-out here, you can’t do well with your European horses until they start racing on [dirt]. It’s invaluable the experience they gain on it and he had his two starts on the surface and it was always our plan. When you see your horses wide on the back of that turn, you start to worry, but he was always travelling so well into it. Down the back straight I saw half of them coming under the pump and I thought ‘don’t worry, he’s just coming good at the right time now.’ It’s great for the team. Most importantly it’s good for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who has a lovely horse win on Dubai World Cup night. I’m just delighted we’ve managed to put one into the back of the net.”
Buick said: “I was always where I thought I would be. He breaks a little bit slow, so I never thought I would be up there. He doesn’t have much speed early and I was quite happy with the draw because I knew I could control where I would be and I did. Once I got out, he just bolted. I was a little bit worried I was getting there a little early; a little too quick, but that was some performance tonight. He’s really come on and he’s a big horse, but he’s still a shell. He really knows how to use his power now.”