Dubai: If Cigar was referred to as the horse of a lifetime and California Chrome a horse that made dreams happen, how would you describe Mystic Chrome, Saturday’s emphatic winner of the $12 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse?
Let us try. But first we will need to examine the circumstances, and planning, that led to his participation in the great race, which was celebrating a milestone 25 years since Cigar’s victory in the inaugural event at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in 1996.
In the absence of a horse that stood out as a genuine contender Godolphin, who have won the Dubai showpiece no less than eight times in the past, cast its net wide and roped in France-based Magny Cours, while Gifts Of Gold earned his place in the starting line-up after impressing nine-time Dubai World Cup-winning handler Saeed Bin Surour with a solid performance in Riyadh on Saudi Cup Day.
But it was Mystic Guide who had the most appeal and the credentials to become Godolphin’s front-runner. A Godolphin homebred by Ghostzapper who only put foot on a racecourse in February last year was campaigned at graded stakes level by his handler Michael Stidham after delivering some eye-catching performances at New Orleans, Belmont Park and Saratoga, where he would announce himself as a big-race hopeful by winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes.
In his four-year-old debut, Mystic Guide won the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park on February 27, a race that helped him secure at ticket to Dubai as Godolphin’s No. 1 contender for the Dubai World Cup.
Well-bred and out of five-time Grade 1 winner Music Note, by AP Indy, the dam, Mystic Guide was all the rage in the international betting markets heading in to Saturday’s showpiece race. And he did not disappoint the odds-makers, punters or his connections, with a solid performance to win the race in its 25th Anniversary year.
It was a fairy-tale ending for Godolphin, the stable created by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who have won most of the major races around the world, since establishment in 1993.
But how good was Mystic Guide’s performance? And did it compare to that of previous Godolphin-owned winners of the race, such as Dubai Millennium, Street Cry, African Story of two-time winner, Thunder Snow?
It’s hard to quantify Mystic Guide’s ranking at this stage in his career, because unlike Dubai Millennium and the other Godolphin winners, he has yet to reach his full potential. He is not yet the finished article with both Stidham and jockey Luis Saez saying that the best was yet to come. Perhaps he will even be back next year to defend his title at Meydan.
However, before that. it is safe to say that Godolphin will be targeting all the top-flight races in America this season with the very game Mystic Guide who is fast becoming a top earner for his connections, having already banked $7.3 million in just his second year on the track.
Perhaps we should hold fire on attempting to compare him to the great winners of the Dubai World Cup and allow Stidham the chance to nurture him to greater heights in due course.