Dubai: Former champion trainer Satish Seemar continued his strong start to the season by saddling Bay Willow to win the feature race at the Al Basti Equiworld-sponsored meeting at Meydan on Thursday night, and then credited the success to good teamwork.
Bay Willow brought up Seemar’s 14th win of the term and, more importantly, helped stable jockey Richard Mullen reclaim top spot in the jockeys’ championship with 17 victories.
The six-year-old son of Singspeil made all the running to outfox his rivals and land the 2,800m event by an impressive six-and-a-quarter lengths.
Seemar indicated that he would next point the horse at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
“This was the perfect distance for him, exactly the kind of race we’ve been waiting for,” said the handler. “Fortunately he’ll have some nice races in the Carnival and it’s a perfect set-up.”
Asked if the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) Dubai Gold Cup on March 31 could now be the long-term target, Seemar brushed off the suggestion, saying: “Racing is all about dreams for people like us, but my philosophy is to take it one step at a time. Today was a good step to take and the next race will tell us just how good he is.
“Each horse has a ceiling but I think, given the way he won today, this horse certainly has another win. Can he continue winning? Only time will tell.”
Seemar was also full of praise for Mullen’s riding tactics: “Richard rode a very sensible race, he dictated the pace, which is the smartest thing to do over this distance, and then he knew exactly just how much gas he had left to make his move. That’s the difference between winning or being second.
“I think the success we’ve had so far is down to having a good team and I have an amazing team back at Zabeel and Millennium Stables. I’m very proud of my staff, many of whom have been with me for years. They all work very hard and the results we’ve achieved are a tribute to them.”
Meanwhile, Emirati handler Mubarak Bin Shafya and stable jockey Adrie de Vries combined to land the only double on the night.
Busker won the Donegal Football Team Cup 1,600m handicap, while Blue Tiger’s Eye took the Bluefrog Trophy over 2,000m.
Commenting on Busker’s victory following a thrilling four-horse race that saw less than a length separate the quartet, de Vries said: “He was very game and brave to get through those gaps and seemed to enjoy the hurly burly. He seems to go on any surface and is basically a tough and genuine handicapper who tries his best.”
De Vries also pointed out that a change in riding equipment helped Blue Tiger’s Eye put his best foot forward.
“I rode him at Sharjah last time on dirt and he showed nothing so we put the visor on and that, combined with the change of surface, seems to have done the trick,” the Dutch rider said. “It has been a good night for the yard and a great boost before the big races coming up.”
Seven-time UAE champion jockey Ted Durcan produced one of the best finishes of the night when he snatched victory on the line aboard the Doug Watson-trained Dan Chillingworth.
Originally the Stewards announced that Al Razi, the mount of apprentice Marc Monaghan, had won the race, only to reverse the decision after consulting the photo-finish camera.
Watson was relieved, saying: “I would have been absolutely gutted for the owner [Hamid Radan] if we had lost that race. He has been a big supporter of our stable, so it’s good to give something back. The horse deserved that as he has run some great races without enjoying much luck in the past.”
Former British champion jockey Kieren Fallon partnered Forevertheoptimist to win the 1,200m Hartog Trophy and give Bahraini trainer/owner Fawzi Nass his first win of the season.