Mystic Guide from Godolphin’s American operation served a fitting celebration to the 25th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup.
Mystic Guide raced prominently before taking up the running on the home stretch to win ahead of Japan’s Chuwa Wizard by three and three-quarter lengths at Meydan on Saturday.
Magny Cours, trained by Andre Fabre in France, finished third ahead of Salem bin Ghadayer’s Hypothetical and Bahraini Fawzi Nass’ Salute The Soldier in the $12 million race.
Hypothetical, under Mickael Barzalona, and Royston Ffrench on Capezzano set the early pace as Luis Saez had Mystic Guide settled in third for much of the 2,000-metre trip.
The Panamanian jockey got to work as the field swept on to the final stretch and moved Mystic Guide to the front. The race was all but over from that point as the Godolphin horse sprinted to victory, providing the stable their ninth Dubai World Cup trophy.
Kieta Tosaki on Chuwa Wizard and William Buick atop Magny Course finished strongly to take the minor placings.
“That was the plan, to get a good position and sit there,” Saez said. “He proved that he’s a champion. He’s a young horse and he can only get better and better.”
Mystic Guide was trainer Michael Stidham's first runner outside America - in one of the world's most prestigious and valuable races.
"I'm very proud, very proud of the horse - and so happy to be here, for Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed, on the 25th anniversary. To have a performance like that was the icing on the cake.
"I really felt like it was finally my turn to step up to the big time, and I really wanted it to happen - and it has. It's 40 years of emotions right now."
Saez revealed that his horse got affected when Great Scot got fractious. The race was delayed by 14 minutes after two horses broke free after unseated their riders.
First the Abdullah Mishrif-trained Great Scot unseated Frankie Dettori and galloped loose on the way to post. After he was caught and withdrawn, Musabah al Muhairi’s Military Law slipped under the stalls, also running loose before being withdrawn.
“I was a little worried, as he was sweating,” Saez added. “But he’s a professional and did what he had to do in the race."
Saez was not the only one concerned as Stidham admitted he was also worred about how Mystic Guide would deal with the commotion around him.
"He was getting pretty angsty on the walk over - and then in the different holding areas, he was getting a little bit tough, giving us a hard time," he said.
"I was concerned that when he got into the parade ring, it was going to even get a little worse - and it did.
"Then multiple loose horses, loading and unloading, he was starting to kick out. There were comments about him maybe running his race before the race - and I was concerned, I really was.
"But in the end, his class and ability came through."
Mystic Guide proved he has the temperament as well as the talent, and Stidham added: "It's a totally different atmosphere here (to America), and horses have to be able to handle it - it's not easy for an American horse to come over and do it.
"(But) I felt really good when he got the position he got, lying third comfortably down the back. I didn't know for sure - but then down the lane, it was amazing."
For Saez, capturing the Dubai World Cup has been the realisation of a childhood ambition. “It was my dream when I was a kid to win the Dubai World Cup so this means a lot to me. It’s so beautiful," he said. "I want to say hi to my wife, who couldn’t be here today but was watching back home. I love you, see you soon.”