Moon Ballad wins the eighth running of the Dubai World Cup in 2003

March 9, 2021

The Dubai World Cup meeting celebrates its historic 25th anniversary on March 27, with six Group 1 races and three Group 2s, including one of the world’s premier races, the $12 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline.

Over the next three weeks, we will pay tribute to each of the previous Dubai World Cup winners. Today, we rewind to 2003 when Moon Ballad gave jockey Frankie Dettori his second, and trainer Saeed bin Suroor his fourth, Dubai World Cup title.

Moon Ballad’s devastating performance to win the US$6,000,000 Group1 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, matched that of his stablemate Sulamani (also trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori), in the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier that night. This was the year when Dettori and Suroor won three titles on the Dubai World Cup card, the third coming in the Godolphin Mile through Firebreak.

Only Dubai Millennium has dominated a Dubai World Cup like this, Moon Ballad taking control of the race at about the 1,000m and then putting it beyond doubt just 400m later. As the field turned for home, there was just one horse in it and Moon Ballad had horses of the calibre of Harlan’s Holiday, Nayef, Grandera and Aquarelliste in his wake. Together that quartet had won 11 Group 1s between them, but they were made to fight over the minors as Moon Ballad turned this Dubai World Cup into a one act affair.

In 2002 jockey Frankie Dettori was denied Dubai World Cup success when, after choosing Sakhee, he was beaten into third place behind stablemate Street Cry and 12 months later he had another difficult decision to make between the 2002 World Series Racing Champion Grandera and the rising star Moon Ballad. Both had been impressive in winning their lead-up events, Moon Ballad in the second round of the Maktoum Challenge and Grandera in the third round, but when declarations were issued, he had chosen Moon Ballad.

He had been working very well at home and although it was a hard decision I went for him,” Dettori said. “He is a wonderful horse.” The early stages of this Dubai World Cup were not run as quickly as in previous years, however Moon Ballad showed his class with a devastating final 800m in 47.77 seconds which meant those coming from behind found it impossible to beat him. Harlan’s Holiday produced a very strong performance to finish second, holding off Nayef and Grandera in the run to the line, both the third and fourth probably needing more speed on in the race however it is doubtful whether they would have beaten the winner had there been early pace.

In winning the eighth Dubai World Cup, Moon Ballad emulated his sire, Singspiel, who won the event in 1997, and like his sire he showed that he was equally adept on the dirt as well as the turf.


Dubai Racing Club Press Release

Photo: Moon Ballad, (Dubai Racing Club)

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