As he stood at the rail nervously waiting for race five to start his heart sunk as he heard the news that his number one contender for the race, Blue Point, had been scratched at the gate with blood in his nostrils.
But before he barely had time to process the shocking news, his emotions turned to joy as he watched James Doyle produce a telling late burst on Jungle Cat, another of his three runners in the 1200m sprint on turf, to pounce inside the final 200m and take the winners purse.
The 6-year-old Irish horse won by half a length to the good from the strong finishing Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Stormy Liberal with a length and half back to another American contender, the pacesetting Conquest Tsunami.
The winning time a sharp 1:09.37.
“I said before the race that if Blue Point was to falter tonight then Jungle Cat would be there to pick up the pieces,” Appleby said post-race.
“I don’t know what happened with Blue Point but there just seemed to be a trickle of blood from his nose.
“Once he was withdrawn I knew I had to compose myself as Jungle Cat was in the form of his life.
“The team has done a fantastic job and I am delighted to win. I fancied him last year but the rain came and he finished fourth. He is now a Group 1 winner and I am very proud of him.
“James (Doyle, jockey) gets on with him very well and he rode a perfect race. It is a first Group 1 for Jungle Cat and it is richly deserved.
“It is also a terrific feeling to win a race on the biggest stage for Godolphin,” he added.
Doyle, who was on his first winner of the day said: “Obviously, he stays 1400m so I jumped quite well and then found myself just in the middle of them.
“He is a horse who likes to get a bit of room, so there was that option after going a furlong or so to move out to my right and give him all the room in the world and that panned out all right.
“You can set the clock by him. He is fantastic.”
For Blue Point jockey William Buick, it added to a disappointing start to the day as to that point all he had to his name was a third on Rare Rhythm in the Dubai Gold Cup.
Buick still sounded upbeat saying: “It’s disappointing for me but it’s great for the team that we still got the winner.”
However Buick, and Godolphin’s fortunes were set to change after Jungle Cat’s inspiring triumph.
Two races later the royal blue silk was back in the winners’ circle as Benbatl, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and ridden by Oisin Murphy finished strongly to win the Dubai Turf.
And then in the penultimate race of the night Buick finally got his winner, partnering Hawkbill to a stunning victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic, giving Appleby his second and Godolphin their third win of the night.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rahid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was delighted watching on from his position near the winning post – thrilled that all the hard work of Godolphin stable was paying off in such impressive performances.
Greater joy was to follow soon after as another Godolphin charge Thunder Snow won the main event.
The Aidan O’Brien trained 3-year-old strode out around the final corner to win by a staggering 18 ½ lengths from Rayya with Reride in third.
The finishing time of 1:55:18 broke the existing mark of 1:56:51 set by Mizbah last year,
The pre-match favourite, and local hero, Godolphin’s Gold Town wilted badly to finish a disappointing fourth.
Mendelssohn, the sire of Scat Daddy, will now set his sights on the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
O’Brien confirmed after his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf success that the Derby was under consideration and following a comeback success at Dundalk in early March, Mendelssohn took the next step on the road to Churchill Downs in this nine-furlong Group Two.
One of the best performance in Dubai World Cup night. It will take some horse to beat him in the Kentucky Derby. Brilliant win.— Alex jones (@ajax1964_alex) March 31, 2018
Jockey Ryan Moore appeared keen to get Mendelssohn to the lead from the moment the gates opened and he soon navigated his way to the front.
From that point it was a matter of margin rather than result, as one by one his rivals fell away as the US challenger galloped on impressively.
Most remarkable about the run was that it was Mendelssohn’s debut on dirt.
But the further Mendelssohn went the better he looked and he passed the post a long way clear of Rayya to score in a course-record time.
Afterwards the usually staid O’Brien worked hard to contain his delight.
“Ryan was happy he had a good draw and if he broke well he was happy to let him travel in front,” said the Irishman, “he gave him a great ride – we couldn’t be happier.
“He came forward lovely from his first run and that was good experience for him on that surface first time.”
Moore said: “He’s a very fast horse. He could have led a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf if I’d wanted to.
“It’s the first time he’s been in front today and he’s still a horse that’s learning, so he was still a bit green in places. It was his first run on dirt, so that was huge for him, and it was his first time at this trip, so that was another question mark.
“He’s a high-quality horse who has got better with every start.”
Looking ahead to a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby, the jockey added: “Obviously the next time it’s going to be a far tougher question, there’s no doubt about that, but we’re very happy with what he’s done and I still feel he will get better.
“He’s got the pedigree and the looks to go with the form that he’s producing, so he’s a very exciting horse.”
It was Moore’s second win of the day after he got local horses off to a great start with Heavy Metal taking out the Godolphin Mile for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum in the first race of the day.
The GCC again triumphed in the Dubai Kahayla Classic with a strong ride from Saudi Arabia representative Tallaab Al Khalediah, trained by Mutlaq bin Mashraf and ridden by Roberto Perez.
Dubai Gold Cup (G2) to Vazirabad, who makes it a hat-trick on wins of World Cup Day..by Manduro (Monsun). Dam by Linamix, group winning half-sister to G1 winner Varenar, going back to a half-sister to Swale..— Pedigree Consultants (@Pedigreeconsult) March 31, 2018
The ride of the day, prior to the Mendelssohn masterclass came in the third race, when Vazirabad made it an historic hat-trick of wins on Dubai World Cup day in the Dubai Gold Cup over 3200m on turf.
Trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre and ridden by Christophe Soumillon, the French gelding charged down the straight, vanquishing Godolphin’s Frontiersman (fourth) and Rare Rhythm (third) who had led into the final 300m.
Sheikzayedroad held on for second for the UAE, trained by David Simcock and guided by Martin Harley.
There was a sensation just moments before race five, the Al Quoz Sprint, as the favourite – Godolphin’s Blue Point – was scratched at the gate with blood in his nostrils. Trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick must have started to think it wasn’t there day.
But Appleby was not to be denied with James Doyle bringing home another of his runners, Jungle Cat – the Godolphin horse cheered on by a overjoyed crowd.
Trainer Peter Miller filled out the minor placings with Stormy Liberal second and Conquest Tsunami third.
Vazirabad charged home to claim a third successive victory in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.
Just as he did last season, Alain de Royer-Dupre’s six-year-old warmed up for his big-race assignment by finishing second in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy over a mile and three-quarters a month ago and was the hot favourite to add to his tally on World Cup night.
Frontiersman took the field along ahead of fellow Godolphin representative Red Galileo and that pair rounded the home turn with a significant advantage over the rest of the field.
However, Vazirabad and Christophe Soumillon soon began to make inroads and the French challenger was well on top at the line, winning in a course-record time.
David Simcock’s Sheikhzayedroad came from a long way back to fill the runner-up spot, but last year’s Ascot Gold Cup hero Big Orange was a big disappointment for Michael Bell and Frankie Dettori.