Ushba Tesoro capped yet another memorable night for Japan on the greatest stage of all by finishing the race the strongest in the 27th Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline, over 2000m on the dirt. The 6yo son of Orfevre scored by a widening margin from local hope Algiers with Saudi Arabian representative Emblem Road in third.
The winner is trained by Noboru Takagi for Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings and was ridden with great poise by Yuga Kawada. It was a race where the picture changed markedly in the final 400m; as the field turned into the home straight, the principal Emirati fancy Algiers was travelling with conspicuous ease and as he assumed the lead with 300m remaining, the lion’s share of the $12 million purse appeared at his mercy.
However, about five lengths further back, jockey Kawada was unfurling a lethal burst from Ushba Tesoro who he had settled at the very rear of the field before making his move, out wide, with 600m to race. The winner trailed the field by 15 lengths in the very early stages of the race. However, Kawada delivered a seemingly nerveless effort from the saddle.
Winning trainer Takagi said the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, still the one race Japan has yet to conquer and the one it covets most, will come under consideration later in the year, all going well. The draw for the Dubai World Cup had placed three of the main fancies: Country Grammer, Algiers and Panthalassa, out wide and the last named could never dominate the way he did when landing the Saudi Cup a month earlier.
He tired to finish well beaten in tenth. Last year’s World Cup hero Country Grammer was always a bit laboured and returned seventh. Despite the dominance by Japan in the world’s biggest races in recent years, it was their first success in the $12 million feature since Victoire Pisa broke through in 2011.
It was also their first on dirt, with Victoire Pisa's success coming on the synthetic Tapeta surface. Yet such is the quality and quantity of the Japanese challenge in Dubai in recent times, it will hardly likely to be as long before their next success arrives in the Meydan Racecourse showpiece. Kawada said: "He jumped quite well but the majority of the other Japanese runners ran towards the middle of the pack.
I tried to focus on maintaining the horse's stride and just to keep his rhythm from the rear of the pack. "It was his first time running overseas and there were queries as to whether he'd travel well, as was the fact it was his first time on the surface. He was training quite well over here this week and I knew the horse was in good condition, so it was just a matter of the horse keeping his head in the race and he did that very well today.
"There were eight Japanese horses in the field and aside from myself the only other Japanese jockey on a Japanese horse was Yutaka Yoshida on Panthalassa. I was on the horse for the first time today but it was a tremendous honour to ride him and there was a lot of pressure as the leading Japanese jockey heading into the race.
"Thanks to the effort of the horse he fought on very well and I'm very proud of myself as the leading Japanese jockey by winning one of the leading races in the world today." Trainer Takagi added: "It's a great feeling! After watching his previous run, when winning the Kawasaki Kinen last month, the Dubai World Cup was certainly on my mind for this horse.
"Everything went as planned. Actually when he first arrived here he was quite nervous and a bit toey but that was expected and as the days went by he gradually adapted to his environment and ran a great race. This is by far the greatest honour of my career. We will go back to Japan as he's a bit vulnerable in hot weather and heat.
We'll see how he is over the summer and come up with a plan for him." An owner representative for Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings said: "This was a complete team effort and the victory is for the effort of every individual in this team. "This was the first win abroad for our syndicate and now we've opened our doors to the global stage we will look again. The owners had previously expressed an interest in going for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe if we won this today…"
1. Ushba Tesoro (Tagaki/Kawada)
2. Algiers (Crisford/Doyle)
3. Emblem Road (Abdulwahid/Furaydi)