The first horse to win the Dubai World Cup at the inauguration race in 1996 was the Hall of Famer Cigar. The race is run over a distance of two thousand meters, has a purse amount USD 10 million, and is hosted by the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. Horses that are three-years-old and older are permitted to participate in the event. On Saturday, 26 March 2011, a Japanese horse by the name of Victoire Pica galloped to victory – a historic moment for Japan as a whole.
The Dubai Cup is sponsored by Emirates Airlines, and this weekend was the sixteenth edition of the event. The entire evening is an eight race event, and totals purse money of more than $26 million, making it one of the richest events on the racing calendar. There were fourteen horses in the field for the Dubai World Cup, which lures thousands of immaculately dressed spectators each year.
Victoire Pica was ridden by Mirco Demuro and is trained by Katshuhiko Sumii. After the recent tragedy that struck Japan, Sumii was unsure if he should carry through with his plans to race. But Victoire Pica had already been shipped to Dubai before the earthquake struck Japan, and Sumii made the decision to travel to Dubai to try and give the Japanese people some hope and joy amidst the tragedy. Victoire Pisa and Demuro left out of gate six and dropped to last position within the first few hundred meters. At the first bend of the race there was a bit of a traffic jam as jockeys started to get their horses into position, which led to Demuro taking Victoire Pisa to the outside to avoid the pile-up of horses.
Demuro had yet another surprise in store for the contenders, as he waited patiently for the jockeys to get their horses settled when he struck far to the outside again and began charging towards the race leaders. He managed to get in behind race leader Transcend, and when the field turned for home, he overtook Transcend and ran to victory. Trascend had to settle for second place, and Monterosso finished in third. The first two places were taken by Japanese horses, making it a double celebration for the country. Sumii commented after the race: “In this time when Japan is going through a tough time, I felt the whole country was behind me.”