Dubai: Brazil’s Gloria de Campeao transcended all expectations, sporting rationality and rudimentary common sense to win the 2010 running of the Dubai World Cup (G1) at Dubai’s spectacular new racecourse - Meydan.
It was a historic night’s racing as Dubai ushered in a new era in horseracing when it threw open its doors at the iconic venue, which was instantly regarded as one of the finest sporting venues in the world.
And befitting the occasion, the 15th renewal of the great race which was being held on a synthetic surface for the first time since its birth in 1996, delivered an absolute thriller with a trio of horses flashing past the finishing post in a blur of colour and equine athleticism.
For a while, a brief while, it appeared that South African entire, Lizard’s Desire, had snatched victory by the proverbial hair’s breath. Then as trainer Mike de Kock, and the thousands watching held their breath, the official verdict was announced – the winner is Gloria de Campeao!
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As de Kock’s face, projected on the large television screen at Meydan shrunk in disbelief, the cameras panned to the winning connections and Estreke Engergia Stables who threatened to go into orbit.
Almost hidden in between Gloria de Campeao and Lizard’s Desire was Emirati jockey Ahmed Ajtebi aboard Allybar. Ajtebi rode a blinder about the Godolphin galloper but was narrowly denied what would have been his greatest triumph.
“I was getting there, I could feel it,” Ajtebi told me later. “It was unreal, to be so close to winning the Dubai World Cup and then realizing that I, and my horse, had not done enough to win.
“I kept replaying the finish again and again in my mind. But the best horse on the day had won and the runner-up was the unluckiest. To lose by a nose is cruel. My fella finished a shorthead behind the front two.
“But what a race! I will never, ever forget those last closing strides as the finishing post raced towards us. I’ve experienced that feeling before, but never in a race like the Dubai World Cup,” Ajtebi added.
Lizard’s Desire would gain revenge on Gloria de Campeao at Singapore two months later when he won the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji Racecourse.
For Glória de Campeão, it was a case of being third-time lucky - having finished eighth behind Curlin in 2008 and a faraway runner-up to Well Armed in 2009 in the last running of the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba racecourse.