memorable: Silver Charm, ridden by Gary Stevens, left, wins the 1998 Dubai World Cup Image Credit: Silver Charm takes the Dubai World Cup in 1998
Dubai World Cup is celebrating its 25th year
Dubai World Cup is celebrating its 25th year Image Credit: DWC

Dubai Every time I think of the 1998 Dubai World Cup, I can’t help but chuckle.

It’s a natural reaction and I’ll tell you why.

American Bob Baffert was the centre of media attention in America from the moment his stable star, Silver Charm, received an invitation to compete at the third running of the big race.

I would imagine that he would have called his team together to put in place plans to come to Dubai. Scheduling would have been meticulous given the nature of the challenge that they were to confront.

The preparation, the travel dates and all the logistics that go into the whole exercise.

Well, not always.

Silver Charm arrived in Dubai well ahead of the race, but there was no sign of his trainer Baffert.

Bob Baffert is a rock star of American horse racing

Not until later in the week when the man, who enjoys rock star status back home, finally showed up at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse one morning.

Initially Baffert and his closely knit team stood high up in the Grandstand, far away from track itself, to watch Silver Charm put in a smart piece of work.

Media from all corners of the world were patiently waiting for his holiness to come on down and talk to them. And he did not disappoint.

If you had never met Baffert before, you were sure to be blow away by his appearance.

Even though you would never get the chance to look into his eyes, which he always hides behind shades, you could sense his penetrating glace as you threw him a question.

But the answer to the question all were waiting to ask him, about his delayed trip to Dubai, had everyone bursting with laughter.

Despite all the careful planning he had overlooked one small thing — he did not have a passport.

“I didn’t realise that, but anyway it was all sorted out and here I am,” he said breaking into his trademark, wry smile.

That smile would last until Saturday, when Silver Charm would win the Dubai World Cup, seeing off a huge challenge from the Godolphin hope Swain and some classy runners such as Loup Sauvage, Malek, Behrens and Predappio.