Dubai: Dubai-trained Monterosso staged one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Dubai World Cup (G1) when he outclassed a high-class field to win the 17th running of the $10 million (Dh36.7 million) contest before a stunned audience.
Trained in the Marmoum ‘Desert' Stables by Mahmoud Al Zarouni, the five-year-old son of Dubawi stormed home to an easy three-length winner under sassy French teenage jockey Mickael Barzalona.
Capponi, ridden by Emirati jockey Ahmad Ajtebi and carrying the hopes of a horse-loving nation, looked like a winner when he took the lead at the three furlong marker. But he could find no more for his rider, formerly a top camel jockey in the UAE, before he was reined in by Monterosso.
Planteur completed an unprecedented 1-2-3 finish for horses with UAE connections when he finished third under Ryan Moore, half a length back. Reminiscent of his Epsom acrobatics when he won the Derby aboard Pour Moi last summer, Bazalona stood up in the stirrups and raised his crop triumphantly even before he crossed the line to a thunderous ovation.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, led the celebrations in the Royal enclosure and said: "Thank you! Yes it's great. You know we had a chance like everybody, but now this horse pulled it out and I'm very happy. I know he [jockey Mickael Barzalona] gave him a great ride. I am so happy, I am so happy."
The Dubai World Cup will be back in the well-stacked Godolphin gallery after Electrocutionist won the 2006 race.
Al Zarouni, who saddled Monterosso to finish third in the race 12 months ago, was over the moon at his first Dubai World Cup victory and said: "I can't explain what I am feeling at this moment. No one can say how happy I am to come out champion on such a night.
"This horse showed tonight that he is up to the challenge on taking on the best in the world. This win is for the entire team of Godolphin and the people of the UAE." Ahmad Al Falasi, who bought Planteur with the specific aim of running him in the race, was enjoying the moment and said: "It was a very good pace and he just kept on improving as the race progressed.
"For me this is like a win as he is making a comeback after having not run for more than 200 days. I am very happy with this result and he goes straight to Ireland for the big race there (Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1)) in May."
Favourite So You Think, the Eclipse Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes winner, could only finish fourth for trainer Aidan O'Brien, while Germany's Zazou, Japan's Eishin Flash and Godolphin's Prince Bishop occupied the fifth to seventh places.
Chantal Sutherland, who made history by becoming the first woman to ride in the Dubai World Cup, ran a disappointing race and finished 12th of 13 runners.
— With additional inputs from Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter, and Ashley Hammond, Staff Reporter