Godolphin’s American-trained homebred Mystic Guide justified favouritism to win a dramatic renewal of the Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday and hand his owners a ninth success in the 25th running of the $12 million showpiece.
The drama began before some of the horses had even left the paddock as the Abdullah Mishrif-trained Great Scot unshipped Frankie Dettori and took off loose. Once he was caught, the runners were loaded up, only for the Musabbeh al Mheiri-trained Military March to break through the gates, unship Antonio Fresu and embark on his own riderless jaunt.
As a result, the field had to be unloaded, a situation that affected some more than others, while they waited for Military March to be caught.
Once the race was underway, however, it proved to be relatively straightforward for Mystic Guide; always within striking distance of the leader Hypothetical, Mystic Guide was set loose by jockey Luis Saez turning into the stretch and bounded clear for a near four-length win. The Japanese challenger Chuwa Wizard closed to take second while the Andre Fabre-trained Magny Cours, making his first start on dirt at the age of six, was another length-and-a-quarter away in third.
For trainer Michael Stidham, it was a momentous success with his first ever runner in Dubai.
“He ran a fantastic race,” he told the Dubai Racing Channel. “It [the delay] wasn’t ideal but it worked out in the end.”
A Grade 2 winner at three, Mystic Guide tuned up for the World Cup with an easy win in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park last month in a performance that had jockey Luis Saez confident of a bold showing.
“Last time I rode him, I knew he was a Grade 1 winner and today he proved it,” he said. “He’s only going to get better.
“I can’t believe it. The delay was a little bit scary but he stayed relaxed – he has a super temperament. The race went to plan, to get that position and get him to relax. At the top of the stretch, I knew he was going to give me that kick and he did. He’s a champion.”
Mystic Guide becomes the 13th winner at the top level for veteran Ghostzapper, a former stalwart of Adena Springs who relocated to Hill ’n’ Dale Farm in Kentucky for this season as his old base was wound down. The son of Awesome Again stands for $85,000.
Now the winner of four of eight starts, Mystic Guide boasts excellent connections as a son of five-time Grade 1 winner Music Note. The daughter of A.P. Indy, who crushed the 2008 Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks field by 11 lengths, is the dam of three other minor winners and a half-sister to the 2003 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Musical Chimes. Granddam It’s In The Air was a dual American champion while further back it is the family of dual Dubai World Cup hero Thunder Snow.
Music Note also has a two-year-old filly by Maclean’s Music named Gina.