Invasor, ridden by Fernando Jara and trained by Kiarin McLaughlin, wins the 2007 Dubai World Cup race held at Nad Al Sheba. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: One of the smallest fields of seven horses would contest the 12th running of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in 2007 but the race produced an entertaining finish between two hard-core dirt specialists — the favourite Invasor and second chance Premium Tap.

Invasor came into the race as the best dirt horse in the world having won the Triple Crown in Uruguay the previous year, and the fact that he was acquired by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, for a princely sum of around $1.5 million.

He was trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who spent 10 years in Dubai at the Red Stables before he returned to his native America in 2003.

The Dubai racing fraternity were thrilled to welcome Kiaran, who had so many friends and fans in the Emirates, back to what was his former hunting ground at Nad Al Sheba.

Soft-spoken and gentle, it was very easy to get along with Kiaran, even if you were a pesky journalist. He had a lot of time and respect for us and would patiently any question that we had. And we had many, too many in fact. But Kiaran, ever the good-natured man that he was, would give us, what we call ‘fodder’ for our stories.

The Invasor story was already well-documented even before he came to Dubai ahead of the Cup in order to settle down and acclimatise, which he did effortlessly. Top horses travel well and settle into their new environments with ease. And he did without a fuss.

His performance in the race, was that of a pro. Invasor broke well under Panamanian jockey Fernando Jara and tracked Premium Tac for the first five furlongs before he began to shift gears and hit the front inside the final two furlongs and soon put the race to bed.

McLaughlin, who was crowned UAE champion trainer on several occasions, was thrilled to pieces on his comeback win and said: “It’s fabulous, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

“Premium Tap was digging in but we got on by and won it in the end.

“He’s a special horse, If I made a mistake or Fernando did he would overcome it — he’s that good.”

McLaughlin would return to America a very happy man and continued to mastermind Invasor’s career that included a Breeders’ Cup Classic victory and the coveted 2006 Horse of the Year Award.

However, more recently he quit training to become a full-time jockey’s agent and is currently managing the career of $20 million Saudi Cup-winning rider, Luis Suarez from Panama.