By Gavin Davids
Brazilian owned horse becomes first non American or Maktoum owned champion.
Marking a new era for the Dubai World Cup, Gloria de Campeao became the first winner of the world’s richest horse race at its new home in Meydan in a thrilling photo finish.
The Brazilian bred horse seemed to be dominating the field after taking an early lead, but had to fight off a late surge from the unheralded Lizard’s Desire to take the $10 million purse by a nose.
Stefan Friborg, owner, Estrela Energia Stables, said that it was always the plan that Gloria de Campeao would take the lead and set the pace.
He said: “The plan was to go to the front, and he is very tough. He enjoys a fight and he never gives up.”
Pascal Bary, trainer, added that it was the horse’s big heart and courage that got him over the line in his battle with the South African bred Lizard’s Desire.
Ridden by Tiago Pereira, Gloria de Campeao covered the 2,000 meters in 2:03.83, while Lizard’s Desire finished a short head in front of Godolphin’s third placed Allybar.
Pereira said: “I thought I had won, but as we passed the post, I looked across and the second jockey was celebrating so I thought I’d keep quiet and wait for the result. Gloria de Campeao was so brave and this is all just a dream.”
Kevin Shea, who rode Lizard’s Desire, said that his horse had given him everything, but that the winner had “gotten it soft up front.”
He added: “It’s a very bitter pill to swallow, but I’ve got to swallow it. When I looked up it was just after the line and I was in front and I thought I’d gotten it.”
The first three finishers had also raced during the Dubai International Racing Carnival, with Gloria de Campeao winning the Al Maktoum Challenge round one and just missing out by a nose when caught at the finish line by Japanese filly, Red Desire in round three.
Red Desire was one of the disappointments of the World Cup, finishing 11th despite being one of the early favourites thanks to her Maktoum Challenge victory.
Another disappointment was American champion, Gio Ponti, who finished a poor fourth. His jockey, Ramon Dominguez claimed the slow pace that Gloria de Campeao was allowed to set hurt his horse’s chances.
Following Gio Ponti across the line were, in order: Mastery, Gitano Hernando, Richard’s Kid, Mr Brock, Crowded House, Twice Over, Red Desire, Vision d’Etat, Amor de Pobre and Furthest Land.