Mickael Barzalona sealed his new role with Godolphin in spectacular fashion here last night by landing the Dubai World Cup on Monterosso – and, as he did so, reprised the exultant celebration that had launched him on the international stage in last year's Derby. Once again standing upright in the irons, the Frenchman saluted the giant stands at Meydan in the knowledge that Sheikh Mohammed has found an heir, still only 20, for Frankie Dettori.
Trained by another man promoted by Godolphin, Mahmood Al Zarooni, Monterosso had looked unlucky when third here last year. He had needed his only run since, three weeks previously, but was always going strongly this time and broke So You Think's challenge along the rail before stemming his stablemate, Capponi, and Planteur who excelled on his first run for Marco Botti.
Barzalona crowned a night that matched the richest prizes ever offered on the Turf with commensurate theatre. It had begun in tragedy, and proceeded to entwine themes of reconciliation and valediction until reaching a climax of patriotic pride for the Sheikh.
Even that, however, did not quite round things off. With the desert evening cooling into night, there still remained a re-run of the race that had earlier been interrupted in heart-breaking fashion. Halfway through the Dubai Gold Cup, Fox Hunt broke down turning into the straight for the first time. A crowd that included Diego Maradona, nowadays working out here, looked on aghast as veterinarians rushed – unavailingly – to his aid. Silvestre De Sousa was fortunate to escape injury, but for the same to remain true of the other jockeys the race would have to be stopped. "It would have been a disaster if we had carried on," Dettori explained. "The poor horse was right on the rail on the corner – we would have swung for home and been right on top of him. Thank God there was a car alongside, and they could tell us to stop."
For Richard Hills, the drama offered a reminder that some things he will not miss. The veteran rider ended his career in the next race, the UAE Derby, albeit Entifaadha was ultimately able to beat just one rival before Hills returned to an emotional reception in the weighing room.
It proved a landmark race at the business end, too, Aidan O'Brien saddling his first Dubai winner in Daddy Long Legs. His patrons at Coolmore, long adversaries of the Maktoum family on the track and in the sales ring, for many years avoided this meeting altogether. After going close with a couple of raiders last year, however, they completed their rapprochement with a colt who will now be trained for the Kentucky Derby.
While O'Brien's son, Joseph, now appears to be ahead of Ryan Moore in the Ballydoyle pecking order, Daddy Long Legs proved another advertisement for the skills of the stable stalwart, Colm O'Donoghue. Whenever given a chance O'Donoghue acquits himself with an aplomb that would be counted the vindication of bigger reputations. He had a useful companion here, mind you. Daddy Long Legs looked superb beforehand and, after racing exuberantly just behind the leader, quickened off the home turn to earn a quote of 20-1 from Ladbrokes for the Kentucky Derby. After running on a synthetic surface here, he will be returning to the dirt over which he made a discouraging reconnaissance in the Breeders' Cup last autumn – but O'Brien considers him a more mature and alert colt now.
O'Brien Jr and St Nicholas Abbey looked unfortunate not to add the Sheema Classic to their memorable success at the Breeders' Cup last autumn, just failing after Cirrus Des Aigles gained first run off a steady pace – so becoming one of the richest earners in Turf history. The French colt had already won the richest prize ever offered in Britain in the Qipco Champion Stakes, last autumn.
Kieren Fallon, himself once stable jockey at Ballydoyle, enjoyed a lucrative success in the Golden Shaheen, riding Krypton Factor for Bahrain, while the turf sprint, the Al Quoz Stakes, was exported farther afield by Ortensia's last-to-first dash for Australia. The big win for Britain came in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, where Roger Charlton produced Cityscape for a devastating four-length, track-record winner under James Doyle – a young jockey who had already consolidated a growing reputation by riding 22 winners out here this winter. This was his first Group success landing a prize assessed by Charlton as "what I'd normally win in three seasons, not three minutes".