Home » Dubai World Cup: Japan-based Ushba Tesoro flies to victory

Dubai World Cup: Japan-based Ushba Tesoro flies to victory

Ushba Tesoro capped yet another memorable night for Japan on the greatest stage of all by finishing strongest in the Group 1, $12 million Dubai World Cup Saturday at Meydan.

The six-year-old son of Orfevre scored by a widening 2 3/4-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. A 13-1 price in the pari-mutuel pool, he paid his backers $28.30 to win.

The picture changed markedly in the final two furlongs. As the field turned into the home stretch, the principal UAE 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. But, under a nerveless ride by Kawada, he finished sharply enough to draw clear late and stop the timer in 2:03.25 for about 1 1/4-miles.

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 labored and ran seventh, while the other U.S.-based entrant Super Corinto finished 14th.

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.”

Trainer Frankie Dettori, who rode Country Grammer to victory in the Dubai World Cup in 2022, did not feel the same horse underneath him as he felt when second in the Saudi Cup last month. “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.”