Ushba Tesoro wins blockbuster $12 million Dubai World Cup race at Meydan

This is by far the world's most valuable day of horse-racing with a total prize money of $30.5 million


Leslie Wilson Jr

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KT photo/Shihab
KT photo/Shihab

Published: Sat 25 Mar 2023, 8:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Mar 2023, 12:36 AM

On an evening where many were hoping that the retiring Frankie Dettori would be the star, it was Japanese champion jockey Yuga Kawada who stole the thunder with a flawless, no-nonsense ride aboard Ushba Tesoro to win the 27th edition of the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1).

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

It was a performance that the legendary Italian himself would surely have been very proud of as it continued Japan’s domination of the big race meeting at Meydan.

Even as hopes of finally winning the Dubai showpiece must have briefly flashed through James Doyle’s mind when Algiers led approaching the final, there was never any doubt that Ushba Tesoro would deny him that glory, the moment he changed gears on the wide outside of the 15-strong field.

As the Meydan audience went wild and roared to their heart’s content, Ushba Tesoro and Kawada reined in Algiers to cross the finish line two and three-quarters lengths clear with 2021 Saudi Cup victor Emblem Road a short head back in third.

KT photo/Shihab
KT photo/Shihab

T O Keynes ensured that it will be a memorable World Cup for the horse-loving Japanese fans when running on for the fourth position.

Country Grammer and Dettori would finish in seventh place after failing to reproduce the magic that saw him win the great race 12 months ago.

Ushba Tesoro was only the second Japanese-trained horse to win the Dubai World Cup following Victoire Pisa in 2011 and the 37-year-old Kawada said he was proud to have delivered on the biggest stage.

"He jumped quite well but the majority of the other Japanese runners ran toward the middle of the pack,” said Kawada who sealed his first Japanese title in 2022 having finished second to Christophe Lemaire from 2019 to 2021.

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

“I just tried to focus on maintaining the horse's rhythm and just to keep his rhythm from the middle of the pack.

"It was his first time running overseas and there were queries on whether he'd travel well because it was his first time on the surface.

“He was training quite well over here this week and I knew the horse was in good condition, so it was just a matter of the horse keeping his head in the race and he did that very well today,” added Kawada.

"It's a great feeling. Everything went as planned,” said trainer Noboru Takagi.

“Actually when he first got here he was actually quite nervous, but that was expected and as the days went by he gradually got used to his environment and ran a great race.

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

“This is by far the greatest honour of my career.”

Despite narrowly missing out on winning a dream first Dubai World Cup bid-race Godolphin pilot Doyle was his charismatic self and said: "Delighted with the way he (Algiers) has run. It was a first opportunity to run at this top level and he has acquitted himself magnificently.

“He travelled around like a superstar and it has been a lot from the top bend to the winning line, but his stamina just kind of drained at the end."

Ed Crisford, who trains Algiers with his father, Simon Criford, added: "He ran with great credit. James gave him a beautiful ride.

“He jumped well and turning in I thought we had it in the bag, but the last furlong he was just treading water a bit. Probably just got outstayed with the tempo of the race, but huge credit to the horse and my team at home and we should be proud. He ran his race there if not better."

The 52-year-old Dettori, who will end his spectacular career at Santa Anita in December, was full of confidence having ridden Lord North to victory in the Dubai Turf 60 minutes earlier.

But the favourite always looked to be in trouble after being slow out of the outside gate and was never able to get into the race proper.

There have been many great winners of the Dubai World Cup among them Cigar, Dubai Millennium, Silver Charm, Arrogate, and Thunder Snow, but there was something that helps Ushba Tesoro to stand out.


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