Dubai: Think of the 2012 Dubai World Cup and there’s every chance that you will feel a chill run down your spine.
If you are stronghearted, perhaps you won’t.
But who can ever forget watching tiny little Mickael Barzalona audaciously standing up in his stirrups aboard the pounding beast Monterosso, celebrating victory even before the race was over.
I’m sure thousands of racing fans at Meydan had their hearts in their mouths as they watched in shock at what was a daring act straight out of a daring Cirque du Soleil show.
For the record Godolphin’s 20-1 outsider Monterosso crossed the finish line three-and-a-half lengths clear of stable companion Capponi, the mount of Emirati jockey Ahmed Ajtebi, with British raider Planteur (14-1), back in third for Ryan Moore.
It was Monterosso’s second Dubai World Cup outing having finished third behind Japan’s Victoire Pisa in the race 12 months earlier. It was cheeky little Barzalona’s first success in the race, that he dreamt of winning as a kid growing up in France.
I remember talking to Mickael several times at Meydan during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and remember profiling him as a non-melodramatic, normal sort of person. Which was quite opposite to image he portrayed aboard Monterosso, playing to the gallery from his high perch above a horse travelling at speeds in excess of 50kph.
It takes guts and skill and a bit of derring-do to perform an act like that which I’m sure his parents would have discussed with him at great length after the party.
“It felt so good, so fantastic, to be winning a race like the Dubai World Cup that I just did what I did,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking of anything but passing the winning post first ahead of some of the best horses and jockeys in the world. It was my moment and I wanted to celebrate in the best way I know.”
Barzalona was not performing his circus act for the first time, he also did it at the Epsom Derby aboard the winner Pour Moi in 2011.
“Winning the Dubai World Cup was a dream coming true for me,” he said. “I have no words to describe how I felt, but it was something amazing. I need to learn more English words to describe my emotions. I’m small so I guess it’s a lot easier to do stuff like that when you’re light and small.”
But if the irony was lost on him Barzalona added: “You have to very serious in this profession and very disciplined.”
Like he was?