Favourites won, some failed, while heroes were born.

Here we look at four turning points of the epic day

The Dubai Millennium legacy

The legacy of Dubai Millennium, who whipped up a storm to win the 2000 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba racecourse, lives on his son Dubawi who has established himself as one of the best stallions in the world today.

Most significant is the versatility that Dubawi offsprings carry which was demonstrated emphatically by Rebel’s Romance, who won the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on Saturday.

Originally campaigned on dirt tracks during the early part of his career, where he also won the 2021 UAE Derby (G2), Rebel’s Romance proved a revelation after switching to a turf programme where he has won eight times including a pivotal victory in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Rebel’s Romance recorded a fourth Group 1 victory on Saturday when he dominated a star-studded field to win one of the most competitive races on the card.

Hong Kong’s Sprint prowess

Hong Kong runners have always held their own when pitched against top international competition and California Spangle become the latest superstar to showcase the high standard of horse racing in the former British colony.

Trained by Tony Cruz, and ridden by Australian jockey Brenton Avdulla, the Starspangledbanner gelding defeated a world-class field to provide Hong Kong another memorable win on the big stage.

The horse showed so much speed as he clocked 1min 07.5sec, for the 1,200 metre trip to shatter the existing course record of 1:07.61 set by Wildman Jack.

And if that was not enough Hong Kong’s other runner, John Size’s Sight Success, finished fifth, just 2½ lengths behind the winner.

Saturday’s performance has Cruz, the top trainer in Hong Kong, dreaming of a shot at Royal Ascot glory.

Recent star sprinters that Hong Kong produced include Lucky Sweynesse, Wellington and Sky Field, who have won the last three running of the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup.

Flat-racing’s thumb rule

Never ruling out any horse in a race, is one of the cardinal rules of flat racing as some of the world’s biggest races have been won by rank outsiders. It’s a sport, where anything can happen because it takes just one electrifying run between being an underdog and a hero.

Facteur Cheval raced consistently in the top company in Europe last year without success and came into the $5 million Dubai Turf as one of the ‘outsiders’.

However, the son of Ribchester, having his first start for 2024 upstaged a world-class field under a confident Maxime Guyon who had to work hard for a narrow victory over Japanese-trained mare Namur.

Last year’s runner-up, Danon Beluga, finished a strong second.

So, it was not an easy race for journeyman Guyon who said that he was not worried about his horse being the underdog and always had faith that his day would come.

And it did at the highest level, which makes flat racing such an unpredictable, yet enjoyable spectacle.

Exciting but dangerous

Perhaps not people are aware that every time a jockey gets in the saddle to ride in a race he is putting himself on a limb and exposing himself to serious bodily harm should an accident occur. And although they are thankfully rare, they do happen to the best of riders.

On Saturday, French ace Christophe Lemaire survived a life-threatening accident in the Dubai Turf when he was unseated from his horse Catnip during the business end of the race.

Just when he was battling for the lead the internationally renowned Lemaire crashed heavily to the ground narrowly avoiding a fatality.

However, he was rushed to hospital where it was revealed that sustained a broken collarbone and a fractured rib after the horrifying fall just 100 meters from the finish and right in front of 60,000 racegoers who held their collective breath.

It is not yet known for how long Lemaire will be sidelined but injuries of the nature that he has sustained take time to heal.

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