The Japanese runners dominated the 26th Dubai World Cup meeting, winning four of the seven supporting races for the thoroughbreds and sharing the $5 million Group 1 Dubai Turf.
The Yoshito Yahagi-trained Panthalassa with Yutaka Yoshida on top and the Frankie Dettori-ridden Lord North, winner of the prize 12 months ago, finished in a dead-heat in the most thrilling finish on the night.
However, the most popular winner of the meeting was Bhupat Seemar’s local-trained Switzerland under champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea in the silks of the UAE Football Association President Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi’s RRR Racing.
The Meydan crowd went up in a roar when O'Shea pulled Switzerland out to the centre of the track before charging to a length and three-quarter victory over last year's runner-up Red Le Zele, who was relegated to second again, with top American sprinter Dr Schivel just grabbing third ahead of Chain Of Love.
The early speed between Wondrwherecraigis and Drain The Clock going toe-to-toe at slick fractions in front set race up perfectly for Switzerland to steal the show.
“It’s such a fantastic result,” Seemar, who is the leading trainer in his first season with a training licence, said of the eight year old Speightstown gelding.
“We’ve always really liked the horse. Tadgh and I spoke this morning and made a plan. Knew there’d be plenty of pace in the race so wanted to pick up the pieces.
“Turning for home Tadgh said we’d just go with one kick. We’ll look to bring him back next year and you never know, even at eight there could be some more improvement in him.
“It’s a fantastic team we have behind us and I need to thank so many people, I’m in a very privileged position.”
O’Shea, who is chasing an unprecedented 10th UAE jockeys championship title, couldn’t have wished for a better finish to the season.
“There was a lot speed on and this horse excels in a truly run race,” the Irishman said.
“We were the outsider today and I said to Bhupat let's ride him accordingly. There's no point putting him in the race and getting him in a speed duel, so we rode him like we did in the Al Garhoud Sprint [at Meydan on New Year's Day] and if he shows that turn of foot he'd be competitive.
“Thankfully it all worked and he's a horse who grew in confidence as the race went on. They were starting to stop and flounder and he was coming harder on the bridle – so it was fantastic.
“He came back from Saudi Arabia (in the Saudi Cup meeting last month) with a dirty scope and he was drawn bad there.
“It was a shame I couldn't go and ride him there but he's come back better than ever, I'd say that's a career best. It's my first Group 1 winner and I'm in the 40 club! I have a good mate Adrian Nicholls who said 'don't give up, it'll come’.”
A Case Of You got one across to the Irish trainer-jockey partnership by taking the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
The Hot Streak colt hit the front between the final two furlongs and never looked like being caught, scoring by a length and a quarter from British raider Happy Romance and Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby’s Man Of Promise.
“I knew he had improved plenty from the last day. Ronan Whelan gave him a great ride, he was super cool,” his trainer Adrian McGuinness said.
“He’s only four and he’ll only get better. I think he’ll win another Group 1 this year and the long-term target at the end of the year will be back at the Breeders’ Cup.”
The Japanese trainer Yoshito Yahagi saddled a double and shared the Dubai Turf with John Gosden.
3.45pm: Dubai Kahayla Classic – Group 1 (PA) $1,000,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: First Classs, Ronan Thomas (jockey), Albad de Mieulle (trainer)
4.20pm: Godolphin Mile – Group 2 (TB) $1,000,000 (D) 1.600m
Winner: Bathrat Leon, Ryusei Sakai, Yoshito Yahagi
4.45pm: Dubai Gold Cup – Group 2 (TB) $1,000,000 (Turf) 3,200m
Winner: Stay Foolish, Christophe Lemaire, Yoshito Yahagi
5.35pm: Al Quoz Sprint – Group 1 (TB) $1,500,000 (T) 1,200m
Winner: A Case Of You, Ronan Whelan, Adrian McGuinness
6.10pm: UAE Derby – Group 2 (TB) $1,000,000 (D) 1,900m
Winner: Crown Pride, Damian Lane, Koichi Shintani
6.45pm: Dubai Golden Shaheen – Group 1 (TB) $2,000,000 (D) 1,200m
Winner: Switzerland, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar
7.20pm: Dubai Turf – Group 1 (TB) $5,000,000 (T) 1,800m
Winner: Lord North, Panthassar (dead-heat), Frankie Dettori-Yutaka Yoshida, John Gisden-Yoshito Yahagi
7.55pm: Dubai Sheema Classic – Group 1 (TB) $6,000,000 (T) 2,410m
Winner: Shahryar, Cristiano Demuro, Hideaki Fujiwara
8.30pm: Dubai World Cup – Group 1 (TB) $12,000,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Country Grammer, Frankie Dettori, Bob Baffert