Desert Diary: Final call beckons for commentator Spargo

California Chrome wins the Dubai World Cup

Terry Spargo called California Chrome’s World Cup win superbly

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

SATURDAY’S Dubai World Cup will be the last played out to the tones of commentator Terry Spargo, with the voice of Dubai racing for the past 20 years set to call the big race for the final time.

The word on the street (more like gossip at the track) is that Spargo, 61, was informed this would be his last year at the start of the season and the search is under way to find his replacement.

They are big boots to fill, with the Australian famed for finding the right line at the right time and never having had an issue about projecting his voice without shouting.

He somehow came out with: “It’s alchemy in the desert as chrome turns to gold” when California Chrome danced away with last year’s World Cup and no doubt he has something special lined up for Arrogate on Saturday.

 No doubt there will be interest in the post from around the globe, especially from a fine crop of British commentators.  

Ritchie doing it for the girls

It was a pity to see Josephine Gordon missing out on a first World Cup night ride, with trainer Hugo Palmer instead turning to William Buick for the mount on Wall Of Fire in the Dubai Gold Cup.

However, another woman is set to break new ground on Saturday when Maria Ritchie becomes only the second woman after Gai Waterhouse to saddle a runner in the $10 million World Cup with Special Fighter.

Ritchie, 49, had been assistant trainer to local trainer Musabah Al Muhairi, but after he was banned for 12 months for using the prohibited substance cobalt, Ritchie inherited one of the strongest stables in Dubai.

“It is a dream come true and I’m very fortunate to have a shot at it,” Ritchie told local paper The National. “I hope I can justify the owners’ faith in me.”

Unfortunately for Ritchie, lady luck deserted her on Wednesday, when Special Fighter – who likes to race on the pace – was drawn out wide in stall 13.

Friends reunited

It is three years ago that Silvestre de Sousa and Saeed Bin Suroor teamed up with African Story to win the World Cup. 

Little did we know then but De Sousa would ride only one more Group-race winner for the stable as he was relieved of his duties as a Godolphin rider.

Bygones appear to be bygones, however, with the likeable Brazilian booked for Bin Suroor’s Famous Kid in Saturday’s Dubai Gold Cup, the same race in which Godolphin rider Buick partners Palmer’s Wall Of Fire. Read into that what you like.


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