Ribchester third as Moreira shines again on Vivlos
A strong European challenge was left bloody-nosed as 'Magic Man' Joao Moreira conjured a withering run down the outside from Japan’s Vivlos to scoop the $3.6 million first prize in the Dubai Turf.
Victory for the Yasuo Tomomichi-trained four-year-old made it three wins in the last four years for Japan in the race and gave Moreira the third World Cup night win of his sparkling career.
In a cosmopolitan renewal, Zarak - bidding to give Alain de Royer-Dupre and the Aga Khan a double on the night after Vazirabad in the Gold Cup - was sent-off 2-1 favourite but it was fellow French raider Heshem who looked home and hosed as he reeled in Malton’s Ribchester and sailed into a commanding lead.
However, Moreira - without doubt one of the best riders on the planet - cranked Vivlos into top-gear down the outer, cutting down the leader as the post loomed.
“Good horses make a jockey's life easier,” said Moreira, who was mobbed by Japanese photographers and fans. “From the time that I sat on top of her on Friday, she gave me the feel that she was going to be very competitive.
"It’s one of the biggest parties in the world and to get a winner makes it very special. I was always convinced she was good enough and when I took her out she was too strong to the line.”
Tomomichi, who saddled Makahiki in last year’s Arc, said the winner has been content since arriving in Dubai and took the World Cup night experience in her stride.
He added: “There was a time when she lost her position a little bit but when she started to make her move I thought she’d catch them. I was always confident she was a very good horse.”
Connections of Heshem thought the race was in the bag when he took the lead but remained magnanimous after their near miss.
Harry Herbert, representing owners Al Shaqab racing, said: “I raised my arms and thought we were home and dry until that rocket came out of the pack. Soft ground hasn’t been his bag in the past but it was today.
"Christophe Ferland is a really good young trainer and it was him who said we should be running tonight. I think you’d have to seriously consider this horse for the Queen Anne.”
Ribchester fared best of a strong British challenge that also included Jebel Hatta winner Decorated Knight and Summer Mile hero Mutakayyef, taking third for Richard Fahey and William Buick.
Fahey said: “I felt two down he was going to go and win and just whether he didn’t quite get home or got tired I don’t know. He was just a bit keen early on. We’ve got a pacemaker for him but he wasn’t invited today.”