Leading up to it, this was perhaps the most wide open of Dubai World Cups with any one of the 14 runners in with a shot. But then, perhaps, Mystic Guide knew deep down inside, that this would be his, and his alone. And it was as if destiny had already written it in his name.
He had been tipped as the favourite and it was hard not to see why, with the four-year-old Ghostzapper colt, radiating that aura during trackwork in the mornings, all week, despite that long-haul trip from across the Atlantic. He had that steely feel about him, a kind which says all is well with the world.
And when the time came, the Godolphin charge displayed that in full view, on the biggest night in the world of horse racing.
The American raider used his mystical power to stride into history on the 25th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup, producing a magical run at the iconic Meydan Racecourse to wrest the $12 million showpiece.
Breaking from a favourable gate six, Panamanian jockey Luis Saez timed Mystic Guide to absolute perfection to clinch the 10 furlong affair on dirt, by 3.75 lengths over Japanese raider Chuwa Wizard.
Mystic Guide’s French teammate Magny Cours, saddled by Andre Fabre, finished a decent third, 1.25 lengths behind Chuwa Wizard.
He tracked pacesetter Hypothetical before taking the lead, 400 metres from home, and then sealed it with a fine finish.
Mystic Guide’s stellar victory brought up Godolphin’s third straight win in the event, after the Emirati handler Saeed bin Suroor had saddled Thunder Snow to successive triumphs in 2018 and 2018. With that, Thunder Snow penned a new chapter and is the only horse to win the Dubai World Cup twice, and back-to-back at that.
It was also a ninth Dubai World Cup win for Godolphin and the 12th trained in the USA.
"I want to start by giving my condolences on the passing of Sheikh Hamdan," said trainer Stidham, who saddled his first winner in 1980.
"This was a special night. You’re seeing 40 years of emotions right now,” he added.
"I got a good feeling when I saw him lying in third on the backside then down the lane it was amazing. I’m so proud to be here on the 25th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup for Sheikh Mohammed and the sky’s the limit for this horse. We’d love to come back next year, I’ll know the lay of the land better then!" Stidham further said.
Meanwhile, Saez said Mystic Guide showed his champion qualities.
"Today he proved he is a champion and I know he is going to get better and better. What a nice horse, he has all the ability. It’s an honour for me. This was my dream as a little kid and I can’t believe I’m here now. It's a dream come true,” said Saez.
"He was a little nervous before the race and in the post-parade, but he does that sometimes and I wasn't too worried. He is just a very talented horse and it is amazing to win this race. I can't believe it.
"Our plan worked out. To break well, get a position and then I knew he would give me that kick at the top of the straight - and he did. I didn't want to be too far back and I just asked him turning for home and he kicked. The plan worked out perfectly. He’s a young horse and last time I rode him I knew he was a Group 1 winner,” he added.