Ahead of the 40th anniversary of Hatta’s famous win, legendary Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Surour spoke to Gulf News in an exclusive interview about his 22-year association with Godolphin and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
A loyal member of Team Godolphin, who rises every day at 5am to train horses, Bin Surour is known within racing circles for his dedication to his job.
Gulf News met Bin Surour at Godolphin Stables in Newmarket, where he talked passionately about Shaikh Mohammad and Godolphin.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
“Shaikh Mohammad’s love of horses is renowned and they have always been an important part of his life. As a young man he was captivated by the power, elegance, speed and grace of horses.
“It is something that I can understand because I feel the same way too about horses. I too have always been around horses. They are and always will be a big part of my life.
“When I became the Godolphin trainer in 1995 it was the happiest day of my life. But what I did not know at the time was that it was the start of a life-changing journey.
“I was young when Shaikh Mohammad won his first ever race with the filly, Hatta, in Brighton in the UK. I clearly remember my father taking me to the Palace of Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the father of Shaikh Mohammad, shortly after that memorable victory.
Horses have been a very big part of his life. What Shaikh Mohammad has done in horse racing nobody has done in the past and I don’t think anyone can do in the future.”
- Saeed Bin Surour, Godolphin trainer
“Shaikh Rashid was full of pride at what his son had accomplished and showed my father several pictures taken of Hatta winning and of Shaikh Mohammad who was there at the racecourse to celebrate his first victory. As we all know, the rest is history.
“Shaikh Mohammad has since gone on to change the face of racing forever. What Shaikh Mohammad has done in horse racing, no one has done before and I don’t think anyone will do it in the future.
“His contribution and global support of the sport cannot be measured — as a passionate owner, a key breeder, a pioneering administrator and as a visionary. The industry initiatives he pioneered will have a positive impact on the sport and racing communities globally for years to come.
“He has owned some of the best horses in the world, like Dubai Millennium, Balanchine, Daylami, Fantastic Light, Street Cry and Sulamani, the list goes on. He has won most of the major races in the world, some of them more than once. And he still goes in search of victories that have eluded us to date.
“He never gives up. This is his passion, a passion which has inspired me and all at Godolphin for over 20 years. It’s what drives us to reach for the stars. It’s what tells us that nothing is impossible if you work hard enough and are focused on the tasks at hand.
“Thanks to his guidance and support Godolphin has been crowned Champion Owner in the UK on nine occasions. It is something that I am very proud and privileged to be a part of.
“Shaikh Mohammad is also a great innovator. He sees things differently to most of us. He took the revolutionary step of wintering his horses in Dubai. A love that really helps the horses who would otherwise have to remain in England during the cold months.
“The horses flourish in the Dubai sunshine, with many of them even taking part in the Carnival where Godolphin has been Champion Owner.
“All through this process of moving horses between England and Dubai, Shaikh Mohammad has a hands-on approach.
“He is constantly in touch to find out how a certain horse is training or recovering if he or she has had an injury. Shaikh Mohammad has an extraordinary memory.
“He can remember every race that a horse has run and how well it performed.
“It was his decision to use the best jockeys and as a result close to 300 different jockeys have ridden in the famous royal blue Godolphin colours.
“On a personal level, I could not have wished for a better life than as a trainer, for Shaikh Mohammad, for Godolphin.
“It has given me so much joy over the years. It’s hard to forget that I have won more than 2,000 races and that Godolphin horses have raced at over 65 racecourses in the world and in 14 different countries. And we have enjoyed winners at every level.
“The bottom line is that being a Godolphin trainer is the best job in the world and for that I only have His Highness Shaikh Mohammad to thank.”