Classic Emperor’s international debut lasted less than a second after the Chris So Wai-yin-trained gelding knuckled out of the gates at Meydan, sending jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun into the Dubai dirt.

Classic Emperor, the second favourite for the 95-105 Handicap, seemingly fell on his nose twice after the barriers crashed open, dislodging Leung before continuing on his way riderless behind the rest of the field.

The result was a nightmare for connections after making the trip from Hong Kong, with the only consolation being that both horse and jockey got through the ordeal without any serious injury.

“Just bad luck,” said Leung, who arrived in Dubai on Thursday morning after four rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

The incident continues So’s bad luck with travelling horses overseas with this the second time things haven’t gone to plan. Last year, the trainer sent Fabulous One to the Dubai carnival but he failed to handle the conditions and finished down the track in both of his starts.

It’s also the third time this week one of So’s horses has come unstuck at the start of a race with Exhilarating Time (Sha Tin on Sunday) and Dances With Dragon (Happy Valley on Wednesday) both losing their riders.

While it was a disappointing outcome, the trip might not be a complete waste as Classic Emperor could remain in the United Arab Emirates for the Burj Nahaar at the Super Saturday meeting on March 10 provided he pulls up well.

“I’ll have to talk to the owner first,” So said.

Adding insult to injury, it turned out to be a very winnable race as short-priced favourite Drafted finished out of the placings with Capezzano leading all the way to take the prize.