Dubai: The fourth running of the Dubai World Cup in 1999 centred around Silver Charm, who was looking for back-to-back victories in the race which was now worth a whopping $5 million in prize money.
The handsome grey was widely expected to repeat his heroics of the previous year and beat a high-calibre field that included fellow American raiders Victory Gallop and Malek and Saeed Bin Surour’s quartet comprising High-Rise, Daylami, Central Park and Almutawakel.
His trainer and everyday crowd-pleaser, Bob Baffert, was a notable absentee who had reportedly stayed back in America to watch his Kentucky Derby hopeful Straight Man run a his prep race.
Silver Charm would not make history as he finished sixth in the eight-horse field, his chances supposedly compromised by the lack of medication.
UAE racing rules do not permit the use of medication which is allowed in America. Veterinarians are known to administer horses a dose of Lasix prior to a race to prevent respiratory bleeding in a horse caused by running at a high speed.
Baffert would say that Silver Charm was scared when he bled, which is a common reaction from a horse when his nose starts to bleed.
But none of this took anything away for the brilliant Almutawakel, who made history for his owner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, who was winning the great race for the first time.
In the saddle was Shaikh Hamdan’s long-time jockey Richard Hills, who could not stop himself from smiling, with the trainer being former Emirati policeman, and now Godolphin handler Bin Surour.
Traditionally, both Hills and Bin Surour are known to hide their emotions pretty well, but on this memorable occasion you could almost feel their joy and touch their jubilation.
At least I could as I stood next to them in the winner’s enclosure.
I had got to know Hills and Bin Surour pretty well over the year’s and found myself unknowingly joining the celebrations.
A feeling of happiness and pleasure overwhelmed me as I rushed to file my copy.
For the record Malek and Victory Gallop finished second and third with Central Park finishing in fourth place.