Jamie Spencer punched the air with delight, but connections were made to sweat as 33-1 chance Certerach caused a big upset in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.
Trained in Ireland by Michael Halford, who excels with his runners in the Gulf, Certerach had an awful lot to find on form.
But Spencer was always in the right place and edged his way past his pacesetting compatriot Ralston Road with about a furlong to run.
Last year's winner Cavalryman, the 7-4 favourite for the Godolphin stable, got himself into all sorts of trouble and was rapidly gaining at the line, but he ran out of time. Star Empire finished third.
"He's a strong stayer and we'll definitely think about the Ascot Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup"
There was drama, however, as Cavalryman's jockey Silvestre de Sousa claimed Certerach had impeded him.
"The winner came right across me and took my ground, otherwise I would have won," he said.
There was a stewards' inquiry but an objection was withdrawn, reportedly by Sheikh Mohammed himself, and the result stood.
Halford said: "This is beyond our wildest dreams. The horse has had a great Carnival and this time last year he picked up an injury in the Nad Al Sheba.
"He's really grown up since then. I wasn't aware of the objection until I got to see Jamie but he said he thought we'd be OK.
"He's a strong stayer and we'll definitely think about the Ascot Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup."
Spencer said: "I rode him once last year when he was beaten in a photo.
"He's a very nice spare to pick up and Shane Foley told me exactly how to ride the horse.
"He quickened well to get to the lead and, if anything, he idled in front. We only just held on."
Toast of New York wins Derby
Jamie Osborne's Toast Of New York ran out a decisive winner of the UAE Derby at Meydan.
Certainly not the most fashionable of runners, having picked up two events at Wolverhampton most recently, he was settled nicely in second by man-of-the-moment Jamie Spencer, who had won the Dubai Gold Cup aboard Certerach 40 minutes earlier.
Toast Of New York (11-1) surged past Safety Check inside the final furlong and was soon well clear of eventual runner-up Asmar.
Godolphin's well-touted Long John flopped badly, while Aidan O'Brien's Giovanni Boldini got going too late and finished fourth.
Amber Sky shines in Al Quoz Sprint
Hong Kong star Amber Sky ended the dominance of Mike de Kock's Shea Shea in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.
Ridden by the Brazilian sensation Joao Moreira, Amber Sky had risen through the ranks in the Far East in the care of trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai and was swiftly into the lead from the outset.
Last year's winner and 11-10 favourite Shea Shea appeared to be left with too much on his plate as he sneaked third, but Amber Sky (5-2) was just doing enough and finished just ahead of Ahtoug.
Moreira said: "I really couldn't feel any better after that. He's such an easy horse to ride and I was able to get him into a good rhythm and nicely relaxed.
"You have to have a good horse to win a race like this and he's a special one."
De Kock said of Shea Shea: "He lost half a length leaving the gate and then he had to snatch him up but, in fairness, we would never have beaten the winner."
Sterling City comes home first in Dubai Golden Shaheen
Hong Kong sprinters continued to dominate at Meydan as Sterling City led home Rich Tapestry in a one-two for the former colony in the Dubai Golden Shaheen.
No sooner had Brazilian-born Joao Moreira guided Amber Sky to victory in the Al Quoz Sprint, he was back aboard the John Moore-trained Sterling City in the six-furlong Tapeta Group One.
Olivier Doleuze attempted to poach a decisive advantage in the closing stages on Rich Tapestry but the 9-4 favourite, who had struggled to go the pace in the early stages, gradually wore him down.
Variety Club claims Godolphin Mile
South African champion Variety Club delivered a powerful performance from the front to lower the colours of Soft Falling Rain in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan in Dubai.
The dual horse of the year in his homeland had a difficult draw in stall 15 but Anton Marcus bustled him quickly out of the gates and across to the inside.
Joey Ramsden's Variety Club (11-2) dominated from that point forward and while last year's winner and 11-4 favourite Soft Falling Rain sat just behind under Paul Hanagan, he could never assert himself and was well held in second.
"For any local South African horse to come all this way just to compete, let alone win, is just incredible,” said Ramsden.
"Anton did the most magical job. He was quite lucky in getting a soft lead and that's obviously what's helped him along the way.
"Things didn't go great for him last time out, but it went very smoothly this time."
Just A Way takes goods in Dubai Duty Free
Japanese runner Just A Way proved to be simply in another league to his rivals in the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan.
Conqueror of Japan Cup winner Gentildonna last October and again successful in his warm-up outing, Naosuke Sugai's fast-improving 3-1 favourite charged right away from runner-up Vercingetorix in the hands of Yuichi Fukunaga.
The big disappointment was John Gosden's The Fugue, the Irish Champion Stakes winner struggling from some way out and eased home at the rear of the field by William Buick.
Dank, representing Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore, made rapid late headway from a difficult position and eventually pinched third.
The winning jockey said: "That was amazing. The start didn't go as I hoped it would and I had to change my plan but it all worked out for me."
Moore said of Dank: "I was stuck in traffic and she stayed on late.
"She's run a great race first time out."