Bhupat Seemar is all bar confirmed as UAE Champion Trainer in his first season, but one thing that would top even that achievement would be a winner on the biggest night of all.
Seemar, who took over the licence from his uncle Satish in November after years as his assistant, has an enviable squad for the big night, including Remorse, who will take his chance in the $12-million Dubai World Cup, having run second in the G1 Maktoum Challenge R3, the main local prep.
“I’m very fortunate to be in this position and in my first season it’s great that we have a runner in the World Cup itself,” said Seemar. “We’ve got a great team and we’ve got some great clients and I’m happy that some of those great clients who’ve had faith in us are getting some rewards for their investments.
“You’ve got to be realistic. You’re going in the world’s biggest race with some of the top dirt horses in the world. Yes, we’ve improved from 80 to 111 but strange things do happen in races; the pace could collapse or something could happen. Remorse is such an honest horse and so far all he’s done is improve so hopefully we can keep him healthy for the race and get a good draw. I’m hoping that if he’s in the first four turning for home, we know he’ll finish the race well.”
Remorse is one of two chances on the night for Kuwaiti owners Al Rashid Racing, who will also be represented by his exciting stablemate Al Nafud in the G2 Godolphin Mile. The four-year-old was originally bound for the World Cup after chasing home Hot Rod Charlie in the G2 Maktoum Challenge Round 2.
“We did talk about it and, with hindsight, I think it was a good decision to run in the Mile rather than the big race as that race is so strong and I think mentally, more than anything, he might not have been ready for it,” Seemar said. “He just broke his maiden about two months ago and he’s already running on the World Cup day. A month ago I was thinking ‘why are we running in the Godolphin Mile’ but now I think it’s the right choice.”
Al Nefud’s stiffest opponent in the race might be defending champion and stablemate Secret Ambition, last seen leading the Saudi Cup field before finishing seventh. Now nine, he aims to become the third dual winner of this race.
“I can’t split them,” says Seemar of Secret Ambition and Al Nafud. “Secret Ambition is this old warrior and now he’s ready. Today he was bucking and kicking and it’s good to see a nine-year-old do that. I think with a good ride and a good draw he’s going to run really well as he’s so tough and genuine. Al Nafud is this new kid in town who’s coming up and has a world of talent, so it’ll be like Michael Jordan and LeBron James.”
Seemar also runs Tuz, winner of a Listed race in December, in the Godolphin Mile and the former Russian-trained gelding is not just there to make up numbers.
“What I‘m seeing of him at the moment is that he’s improved off his last two runs and I think he’ll probably run a really big race,” said his trainer.
Seemar, who trains at the Zabeel stables in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, also runs three in the G2 UAE Derby. Bendoog, third in the Listed Al Bastikiya last time, is the pick of stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea, while the filly Arabian Gazelles will be partnered by ex stable jockey Richie Mullen.
“The great thing for Arabian Gazelles is that she will carry 53 kilos,” said Seemar of the G3 UAE Oaks runner-up. “She’s tough, she’s genuine, she can take kickback. If there’s a lot of pace she’ll be finishing, but so will a few others. At least we know she can stay the distance and she’s only had two runs so she’s still improving.
“Bendoog got a bit legless (in the Al Bastikiya) but also they went wide, they didn’t really come to him and he might have gone closer if they’d come to him. The race just went against him — there was so much pace and he was up with it and he was the only one of those who hung on and won a game race. The winner and the second came from way back which showed the pace was strong. I think there’s a big improvement to come from him and we’re going to put blinkers on as Tadhg said he was looking around a little bit.”
Speaking of fast horses, Seemar’s contender in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen is Switzerland, the devastating winner of the Listed Garhoud Sprint over course and distance in January, before a fruitless trip to Saudi.
“Everything went wrong for him; he was drawn 14, couldn’t get cover,” says Seemar of the Riyadh race. “The winner and the second went fast and then they slowed it down a little. He likes a good fast-run race and then he finishes well. His scope was dirty afterwards too, so I think it will suit him back here.”
So, with eight runners and no outsiders, who does Seemar think is his best chance of a winner on the big night? He offers a wry smile and the most diplomatic of answers: “They’ve all got good chances.”