Rare cause for celebration in Japan after Victoire Pisa wins

Lucrative victory in the desert sparks emotional scenes after race for $10m prize ifts some of the worry following natural disasters

It turns out that sometimes $10m will simply remind you how some things are far more precious than money. Sometimes, equally, a load of brown animals running in a circle can offer mankind genuine succour, even in his greatest need. Such were the paradoxes that caused sobbing amid the euphoria, and laughter amid the tears, after the richest prize in Turf history was settled on Saturday night.



Nobody imagined that the Japanese could suddenly forget their grief, simply because a couple of their horses had dominated a race in some remote desert. At the same time, the images that accompanied Victoire Pisa's success in the Dubai World Cup may have encouraged those watching back home that their sense of joy may not be irretrievable, after all. For here was a small group of their compatriots whose limbs still obeyed a physical instinct of celebration, even as their faces crumpled in confusion. They wept, in sorrow and guilt and pride. But their feet still knew how to dance; their arms, how to hug. And they understood that hope was no longer just a word.

Sheikh Mohammed enfolded the colt's owners in a long, emotional embrace. The choreography of his ambitions for his homeland can sometimes seem a little melodramatic – witness the portentous narrative that weighed down the breathtaking opening ceremony – but here was touching evidence of his abiding purpose. Meydan, this impossible racecourse, was so named as "a place of meeting". If some of the cultural incongruities here remain uncomfortable – one enclosure seethed with bibulous westerners, the next with a chaste and exotic Muslim throng – you could still admire what he had in mind. Though his own horse, Monterosso, was third, a Japanese 1-2 had palpably perfected his vision for the night.

The dynamics of the race itself, admittedly, were rather maddening. You would like to think that the jockeys would ride for such stakes as though they meant it. Instead they gave us something Christophe Soumillon, one of the unplaced riders, dismissed as "a go-kart race". It was as if they were still groping through the weird, smouldering half-light of the sandstorm that had drifted across the track earlier in proceedings. The diffident pace, as last year, suggested a culpable vertigo in some of the riders.

Not Shinji Fujita, who hypnotised his pursuers on Transcend and was so able to hold out until deep into the straight. Greatly to his credit, however, Mirco Demuro had taken matters into his own hands at halfway and circled the entire field to join issue on Victoire Pisa. Jamie Spencer was also alert, shadowing the pace on Cape Blanco, but his mount was never equal to the dash for home and was beaten a length into fourth. Gio Ponti finished next, arguably most poorly served by the run of the race, but it was déjà vu for Twice Over. As last year, he was trapped wide and behind and never got involved.

Newmarket's big winner was instead Presvis, who reached a new peak in a remarkable career of global depredations with a customary last-to-first burst for $3m in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes. Luca Cumani's affection for the horse is plainly about rather more than his cut of the earnings.

"He's a funny guy," the trainer said. "If he was a man, he would be a loner. He's not a very social type, you have to train him the way he wants. We play around with him: we try to confuse him, and he tries to confuse me, and we just get along as best we can."

Spencer was unlucky here on Wigmore Hall, opting to play safe on the outside only to get stuck in traffic as Ryan Moore found the perilous inside route parting like the Red Sea. Wigmore Hall flew into third and will now pursue Presvis to another huge pot in Hong Kong.

Conversely the three Godolphin winners on the night will be flown into Newmarket in the next few days, ready for the start of their European campaign. Rewilding's success in the Sheema Classic confirmed that he will be building on his contribution to Mahmood Al Zarooni's first season as Godolphin's second trainer, while Saeed Bin Suroor's Khawlah excelled in beating colts in the UAE Derby under the French teenager, Mickael Barzalona. Khawlah will now go for an Investec Oaks trial.

She only just collared Master Of Hounds, whose bold run seemed to seal a rapprochement between his owners at Coolmore and the Maktoum family, after a six-year cold war. Moore told Aidan O'Brien that his mount had tired after going clear, but the Ballydoyle trainer indicated that the colt could yet drop back in trip for the Guineas. O'Brien may well have his three-year-olds rather more forward than has tended to be the case in recent seasons. "We'd pushed these ones forward a little, because we knew they were coming here," O'Brien said. "But obviously it's very pleasing they ran so well."

His employers at Coolmore will be gratified to hear the decorous compliments he lavished upon his hosts. "Pictures can't do this place justice, or words," he said. "You have to come and see for yourself. We're privileged to have been invited, and the way we've been looked after, I can't say how much it's appreciated."

With enemies like this, who needs friends? Primarily, of course, everyone was lured here by the money – from Japan and Co Tipperary and everywhere else. It is not as if the two Japanese horses had gone past the post together in a companionable gesture of team-work. But while the ends may be financial, the means can in themselves be very fulfiling, and civilising.

"This is all down to the vision of one man," Cumani said. "He has brought the racing world together. Everyone here is delighted for the Japanese. They are totally undeserving of their troubles, and it's great they have something to cheer about. Yes, it's only a horserace, but people round the world will see the pictures from here tonight, and see that it had meaning, that it was something that could really lift people's spirits."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own