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Emblem Road shocks the world’s best in Saudi Cup

Emblem Road was a hugely popular but shock winner for the home team in the $20million Saudi Cup in Riyadh.

Trained locally by Mitab Almulawah and ridden by Wigberto ‘Wiggy’ Ramos, Emblem Road is a prolific winner in his homeland but was expected to be up against it taking on the best performers from America, Japan and Europe.

Sent on his way at 80-1, Emblem Road was only seventh turning into the straight when it looked like the huge prize-money was sure to head to America.

Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer and the Steve Asmussen-trained Midnight Bourbon looked set to fight out a famous finish with Making Miracles, who won the 2019 Chester Cup for Mark Johnston, just behind them.

However, Emblem Road, a stablemate of Making Miracles, was beginning to hit top gear down the centre of the track.

Even with half a furlong to run and with Emblem Road still over a length down, the result began to look inevitable and the home crowd started to go wild.

Ramos began his celebrations on crossing the line and he looked as dumbfounded as the rest. Country Grammer was second with Midnight Bourbon third.

There were some big disappointments, including last year’s winner Mishrif for John and Thady Gosden, Brad Cox’s Mandaloun and the Japanese star T O Keynes.

Mitab Almulawah’s stable representative Hisham Abdul Wahed said: “All the Kingdom has to party. We did a great job today. We defeated nice horses and quality horses, champion horses like Mishriff, Mandaloun and the others. We beat them all today. Thanks to god for all of this.

“The distance was no problem. It was better for him. He will go to 2000 and 2400 metres. I didn’t really see Emblem Road in the closing stages because I was shouting and we win the Saudi Cup.

“The people are very happy for us and we are for them, the Kingdom, for everyone. I told Ramos before the race your horse has a good chance and you will see.

“Ramos deserved this and today he is our champion.”

Panama-born Ramos, 53, said: “I knew he had a chance but now he’s won the Saudi Cup I can’t believe it.

“I waited a little bit and took my horse to the outside and I knew he would find for me. I did not hear anything. I just wanted the finishing line to get this thing done.

“It was difficult to decide between the two horses (Emblem Road and stable mate Making Miracles) but I chose right.

“This is definitely the best moment of my career. I have been here in Saudi for 24 years. I think in two or three years will be my retirement but I’m not thinking about that now. I feel so very happy to win for my people in Saudi Arabia. This is my second home.

“I will be 54 in May. I come from Panama and went to America. I had eight years over there and then I came here.”

Flavien Prat, rider of runner-up Country Grammer, said: “I thought I had the job done.

“He ran great, had a great trip and there are no excuses. He proved what a good horse he is.”

Joel Rosario, third on Midnight Bourbon, said: “ He showed a lot of heart. He ran really well.

“Coming round the final turn I thought it might be my night but then the winner came on in the last part. It was a beautiful race to watch.

“My horse travels really well all the time. He is amazing.

“It’s a good result for the country and for the jockey. He deserved the win and I couldn’t be more happy. I’m still sore after my fall earlier (on Channel Cat) but you have to do what you have to do.”

Jockey David Egan said of last year’s winner Mishriff, who trailed in last of the 14 runners: “He’s better than that. He didn’t jump as sharply as he did last year and was on the back foot.

“We slowly crept up and got into a nice position but once we turned into the bend he was struggling a long way out and it was definitely not him.

“Something must be amiss but hopefully he’s all right. I looked after him and hopefully he’ll have another day.”

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