Last to first for Ushba Tesoro as Japan's dirt ascension continues


Ushba Tesoro capped yet another memorable night for Japan on the greatest stage of all by finishing strongest in the 27th Dubai World Cup (2000m) sponsored by Emirates Airline at Meydan.

The six-year-old son of Orfevre scored by a widening two-and-three-quarter lengths from local hope Algiers and Saudi Arabian-trained Emblem Road in third.

Ushba Tesoro is trained by Noboru Takagi for Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings and was ridden with great poise by Yuga Kawada.

It was a race where the picture changed markedly in the final two furlongs. As the field turned into the home stretch, the principal Emirati fancy Algiers was travelling with conspicuous ease and as he assumed the lead with a furlong and a half to race, the lion’s share of the $12 million purse race appeared at his mercy.

However, about five lengths further back, jockey Yuga Kawada was unfurling a lethal burst from Ushba Tesoro who he had settled at the rear of the field before making his move out wide with 600 metres to race. The winner trailed the field in rear by 15 lengths in the very early stages of the race. What a nerveless ride Kawada delivered.

Winning trainer Takagi said the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, still the one race Japan has yet to conquer and the one it covets most, will come under consideration later in the year, all going well.

The draw for the Dubai World Cup had placed three of the main fancies – Country Grammer, Algiers and Panthalassa – out wide and the latter could never dominate the way he did when landing the Saudi Cup a month ago. He tired to finish well beaten in 10th. Last year’s hero Country Grammer was always a bit laboured and ran seventh.

Despite the dominance by Japan in the world’s biggest races in recent years, it was their only success in the $12 million feature since Victoire Pisa broke through in 2011. It was also their first on dirt, with Victoire Pisa's success coming on the synthetic Tapeta surface.

Yet such is the quality and quantity of the Japanese challenge in Dubai these days, it will hardly be as long before their next success arrives in the Meydan showpiece

Kawada said: "He jumped quite well but the majority of the other Japanese runners ran towards the middle of the pack. 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 as well as the fact 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.

"There were eight Japanese horses in the field and aside from myself the only other Japanese jockey on a Japanese horse was Yutaka Yoshida on Panthalassa. I was on the horse for the first time today but it was a tremendous honour to ride him and there was a lot of pressure as the leading Japanese jockey heading into the race.

"Thanks to the effort of the horse he fought on very well and I'm very proud of myself as the leading Japanese jockey by winning the leading race in the world today."

Takagi said: "It's a great feeling! After watching his previous run (when winning the Kawasaki Kinen last month), the Dubai World Cup was certainly on my mind for this horse.

"Everything went as planned. Actually when he first got here he was actually quite nervous and a bit toey but that was expected and as the days went by he gradually got used to his environment and ran a great race. This is by far the greatest honour of my career.

"We will go back to Japan as he's a bit vulnerable in hot weather and heat. We'll see how he is over the summer and come up with a plan for him."

An owner representative for Ryotokuji Kenji Holdings said: "This was a complete team effort and the victory is for the effort of every individual in this team.

"This was the first win abroad for our syndicate and now we've opened our doors to the global stage we will look again. The owners expressed an interest in going for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe if we won this today."

Algiers (2nd), jockey James Doyle said: "Delighted with the way he’s 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."

Co-trainer Ed Crisford 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."

Emblem Road (3rd), jockey Adel Al Furaydi said: "He's run a good race but we weren’t able to find that winning luck today. There was a bit of traffic at times and in the straight too we couldn’t get a clear run, but it was a good performance overall."

Saad Abdulwahid, assistant to (and son of) trainer Abdul Abdulwahid, said: "He ran an amazing race, we were just trapped for too long. Once he was in the clear, he came flying. We will point to the Breeders' Cup Classic now."

T O Keynes (4th), jockey Oisin Murphy said: "It was a massive run and it was a great opportunity. My thanks very much go to my interpreter and agent for getting me on the horse."

Crown Pride (5th), jockey Damian Lane said: ”Good run, he’s run really well.”

Bendoog (6th), jockey Christophe Soumillon said: "I thought on the turn I would get something but unfortunately the Saudi Cup winner [Panthalassa] was slowing down. I took him outside and the horse was going too easily but I don’t think he really stays the distance. He needs maturity but he will be good for next season and I think the Saudi Cup could be a good option for him. He did everything right today."

Country Grammer (7th), jockey Frankie Dettori said: “He ran so big in Saudi Arabia and I was never going today. I pushed him but he felt lethargic. When they run so big, sometimes they take longer to recover than you think.

About what is likely his last Dubai World Cup meeting, Dettori quipped: "At least I got one [Lord North]. I’m going to have a nice cold drink now.”

Salute The Soldier (8th), jockey Adrie de Vries said: "With our draw you had to be really fast to stay out of the kickback, which he hates. The race was overpaced and they went like crazy towards the first bend. The Japanese horse, Panthalassa, came in too soon. I was travelling OK he just doesn't like the kickback, he ran on well."

Remorse (9th), jockey Tadhg O'Shea said: "Travelled good and had every chance turning in. It was a good run."

Panthalassa (10th), trainer Yoshito Yahagi said: "The draw was difficult and they are two tough races [Saudi and here]. The race was unbelievable, crazy."

Cafe Pharoah (12th), jockey Joao Moreira said: "I thought there might be something wrong with him physically but no, I don't think so, he just didn't perform."

Vela Azul (13th), jockey Cristian Demuro said: "The draw was tough and the pace was too fast for him. He's a horse for 2400m on turf."

Super Corinto (14th), jockey Hector Berrios said: "I don't know, he didn't enjoy it. Maybe he didn't like the dirt in his face. He's very tired."

Jun Light Bolt (15th), jockey Ryan Moore said: "We just never got into it."

Winning time: 02:03.25 (race record 02:01.38)



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