Saeed bin Suroor's magic in the Dubai World Cup came to the fore once again as the world's richest race remained in the possession of Sheikh Mohammed.
- Related Content
It was the sixth time the Godolphin trainer has saddled the winner, and while African Story had not looked an obvious contender, he was ridden with perfection by Silvestre de Sousa to wear down the front-running Mukhadram halfway down the straight.
The 12/1 chance had stretched well clear by the line, while the Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World, uneasy in the betting and with a poor draw, was struggling from some way out under Joseph O'Brien.
It was a landmark moment for De Sousa, who said: "It was great. He was very unlucky here last time when he banged his head in the stalls, but he has proved he's the boy.
"It's an amazing feeling, one of absolute delight. Godolphin called me to ask me to join their team and I was privileged to accept.
"Saeed thought African Story was a great horse. He had a couple of issues, especially on his second start this year, but tonight he was at his absolute best.
"In fact, I had to pinch myself because of how well he was travelling.
"I got to track the leader on his outside and then in the straight - all I had to do was take aim. It really was the perfect race for me.
- Photo Galleries/
- Dubai World Cup
"In my first season I managed 25 winners and then I missed out on the championship by just four. Obviously this is a big move in my career, riding for Godolphin.
"There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best and that there may still be more to come."
Saeed bin Suroor confessed that he always believed in the colt's ability to perform on the big stage, saying: "There has been a lot of pressure from a lot of people, but I thought two years ago this was the right horse for this race.
"In my heart I thought this horse could win - he is something really special and I told Sheikh Mohammed this two years ago. This is a big thrill and I dedicate this win to my mother and I will give her my golden whip."
William Haggas said of runner-up Mukhadram: "We've had a goodish result. I'd love to say to Sheikh Hamdan I'd love to have another go next year, but there's a lot of water to come under the bridge before then."
Paul Hanagan added: "I'm very proud of him. It was a tremendous training effort by William to have him run so well after a long layoff.
"We went forward. I got a breather into him down the back-straight. We kicked at the top of the home straight and for a moment I thought we had nicked it but in the end we were beaten by a very good horse on the night."
There were good runs from fellow British raiders Side Glance and Red Cadeaux who finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Jamie Spencer rode the former for Andrew Balding and said: "He always ups his game on this surface and he's run a blinder. We were drawn towards the outside of the field, and realistically we were happy to get place money, which he's done."
Red Cadeaux had finished second 12 months ago and Gerald Mosse confessed that the race hadn't really gone his way.
"I didn't have an ideal race. I couldn't get the position I would have liked to from that draw. I had to wait. He then produced a fabulous turn of foot. He ran really, really well. He gave me a great, great ride," he said.