Dubai: As a long-time associate of one of the most powerful men in horse racing, Nabil Mourad, has been privileged to experience first-hand the range of emotions that come with winning some of the biggest races in the world.
He was there at Epsom Racecourse in England in 1994 when Balanchine won the Oaks and also a year later when Lammtarra smashed the course record en route to winning the Epsom Derby.
Mourad would experience innumerable such occasions standing in the winner’s enclosure alongside His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
But yesterday it was his turn to sample the feeling of excitement, happiness and elation when African Ride romped home a compelling winner of the District One Crystal Lagoon Trophy at Meydan Racecourse.
I want to thank His Highness Shaikh Mohammad... without him I wouldn’t be here experiencing such a great feeling of winning a race on an international stage, like this at Meydan.
Ridden by 10-time French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon for the former Godolphin Racing Manager Simon Crisford, African Ride was recording a fourth career victory and first in three starts at Meydan.
Mourad was ecstatic and said that despite all the unforgettable moments he has experienced at the world’s most famous racecourses as a member of Shaikh Mohammad’s travel entourage, the win at Meydan was ‘something special.’
“This is an amazing feeling, to have a winner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival,” he said. “I’m so happy, I don’t really know what to say. It’s something special.
“I want to thank His Highness Shaikh Mohammad for all the support all these years, decades. It’s a privilege to be associated with such a wonderful human being who I have personally learnt so much from.
“He made this happen for me. Without Shaikh Mohammad I wouldn’t be here experiencing this great feeling of winning a race on a truly international stage,” he added.
“I don’t want to get carried away but it would be lovely for this horse to earn an invitation to the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night, and to be in with a chance to win a race on such a fantastic occasion.
“I’m already dreaming of that day. I hope it happens. I just love this feeling of winning. I’ve been there, standing close to Shaikh Mohammad and his family when Masar won the Epsom Derby last June. I tell you it was an unbelievable experience. I was honoured to be there just as I was when Shaikh Mohammad and his Godolphin stable were winning the biggest races on the biggest stages all around the world.” Mourad said.
“And now this happens. I’m disappointed Simon is not here as he has done a great job with the horse. He’s very knowledgable and a patient trainer. A man you can trust to do the job and do it well.”
Crisford was unfortunately not present at Meydan on Thursday, a day when he would record back-to-back victories as Sporting Chance had earlier in the evening landed the Meydan Classic Sponsored by Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City District One under Pat Cosgrave.
But he told the Dubai Racing Club: It feels fantastic to win a first Dubai World Cup Carnival race. We love the Carnival. It’s hard to win a race anywhere, but especially difficult at the Carnival.
“Dubai is my second home, so this is a great feeling to have.”
Meanwhile, Team Godolphin continued to dominate the Carnival winning three more races highlighted by Ispolini’s thrilling success in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City-District One (G3), the key local prep for the $1.5m Dubai Gold Cup
They would also take out the two handicaps with On The Warpath (Charlie Appleby) and Mountain Hunter (Saeed Bin Surour).