Kawada takes Ushba Tesoro to Dubai World Cup win for Japan
Jockey Yuga Kawada (green and yellow silks) on Ushba Tesoro wins the Dubai World Cup horse racing event at the Meydan track in Dubai on March 25, 2023. (Photos: AFP)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – Ushba Tesoro, ridden by Japanese jockey Yuga Kawada, produced a stunning finish to secure his first win outside his home country, with a commanding performance in the US$12-million Dubai World Cup on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Japan, which was represented by 27 horses in the nine-race card, secured three wins.

Apart from Ushba Tesoro, Equinox, the Japanese Horse of the Year, won the US$6-million Dubai Sheema Classic with a blinding run, and Derma Sotogake secured the UAE Derby.

The complexion of the showpiece race changed completely as the field turned into the home stretch.

Jockey Yuga Kawada on Ushba Tesoro reacts after winning the Dubai World Cup horse racing event at the Meydan track in Dubai on March 25, 2023.

Algiers, trained by Simon Crisford, was in the lead and looked good for another Dubai World Cup win for the trainer, who tasted plenty of success with Godolphin as their racing manager.

However, Kawada seemed to suddenly put Ushba Tesoro on turbo charge as he burst through the field from sixth place to the front in no time.

Having started the race at the back, it was a brilliant finish. UAE horse Algiers was second with Emblem Road in third place.

Country Grammer, the pre-race favourite and the 2022 champion, finished seventh, while Panthalassa, the Saudi Cup winner last month, was in 10th place.

Jockey Yuga Kawada (left) receives the trophy from Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum after winning the Dubai World Cup, at the Meydan track in the Gulf emirate on March 25, 2023. (Photo: KARIM SAHIB)

"He jumped quite well. I just tried to focus on maintaining the horse's rhythm and just to keep him from the middle of the pack," said Kawada.

"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 as there was a lot of pressure as the leading Japanese jockey heading into the race."

Equinox, also travelling outside his country for the first time like Ushba Tesoro, was another star of the night.

Even though the son of Kitasan Black was never challenged from front to finish, he still managed to set his own pace and took nearly a second off the course record with his 2 min 25.65 seconds demolition.

Jockey Christophe Lemaire said: "I rode the best horse, I had no fear to set the pace.

"Race after race, he's going up the rankings of the horses I have ridden. It was a great, great performance against these kind of horses at the top level. I couldn't be happier."

Lord North became the first horse to win three straight renewals of the Group 1 Dubai Turf, run over 1,800m, and gave his jockey Frankie Dettori a winning farewell from the Dubai World Cup.

The Italian, who rode for Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Godolphin for several years, is retiring from riding at the end of the season.

It was Dettori's 23rd win at the Dubai World Cup.

"It's amazing to win once; three times, it's unreal. Lord North... what a star. To just get one on the board in my last race at this beautiful place, in Dubai that has been my home for so many winters, it's pretty special."

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