Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
African Story provided Sheikh Mohammed with his seventh victory in the Dubai World Cup, as the seven year old served up a comprehensive beating to his Group I rivals in the $10 million showpiece. Tracking the front end pace of Mukhadram, African Story delivered his strong challenge on the outside of the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum owned horse as the field entered the stretch, and the seven year old son of Pivotal delivered a strong charge to readily go past his younger rival to score for the Godolphin operation.
It is fair to state that African Story has looked far from an outstanding world beater in the past, but his Godolphin Mile victory of 2012 did mark him down as a useful type, and one which could progress. His performance in this race last season was largely a disappointment, but the gelding has readily put that disappointment to bed and delivered on the grandest of stages.
Unseen in Europe, African Story's season is largely geared around performing on the grandest of stages in Dubai, and this season's Dubai World Cup saw him produce a performance from the very top draw.
For Paul Hanagan it was another case of what might have been, as his charge Mukhadram was run down in the straight by Silvestre de Sousa aboard African Story.
A gutsy performance it my have been, and Hanagan and Haggas will take great heart from the performance with the entire European flat season still to come, but it is another Group I near miss for Hanagan who is yet to ride a thoroughbred Group I victory for his employer and exits the Dubai International Racing Carnival without a single thoroughbred victory.
Favoured on Hunter's Light last year, this is a race which jockey Silverste de Sousa deserved, and rewarded him for a string of exceptional performances for his employer throughout the course of the last two years.
"He has proven he's the best," said De Sousa. "He was very unlucky first time this year, and unlucky last time as he banged his head on the gate, but he has proved he is the boy. We did it."
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor, providing Sheikh Mohammed with the only Emirates based victory of the night, was winning the $10 million showpiece race for the sixth time and the victory provided him with his first victory in the race since Electrocusionist in 2006. Cat O' Mountain produced a performance that had been expected all year of him, with a strong late rattling run to get up for third for trainer Charlie Appleby.