Bin Suroor reveals his pride on what Godolphin does for UAE worldwide

Peter Ward 29/03/2014
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Proud Emirati: Saeed bin Suroor with Prince Bishop after his win at the Carnival.

Godolphin stalwart trainer Saeed bin Suroor was first appointed in 1995, the year before the inaugural Dubai World Cup.In the ensuing 18 years, he has now won five times, starting in 1999 with Almutawakel, owned by Sheikh Hamdan.

As an Emirati, the Dubai World Cup, the whole meeting and the preceding Carnival, are special for the trainer, who explains: “When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed created Godolphin, it was very much to promote Dubai on the world stage – we are a Dubai-based racing operation who target big races all around the world.

“As a local, I take great pride in what we have achieved here in Dubai, and of course, worldwide.

“However, the Dubai World Cup meeting is an obvious focal point of our season – which is basically 12 months long. The eyes of the world are on us and we host the world’s best racehorses in our own backyard. That has always been a big thing for us – international, topclass, horse racing here in the desert.

“The introduction of the Carnival has furthered that and added to the impact racing in Dubai has on the annual international racing scene.

“We start here, at Meydan, in January with the Carnival which reaches its climax on Saturday with the Dubai World Cup meeting. We then move the majority of the horses to England and campaign them from there.

“Godolphin is basically about the worldwide stage and targeting the big races internationally.

“They do not get much bigger, or international, than the World Cup meeting, which generates unparalleled interest in Dubai’s racing, both locally – where it is a massive socialevent as well – and worldwide.

“The atmosphere on World Cup night is amazing – especially if we have a winner – particularly in the World Cup itself. The reception Dubai Millennium received in 2000 when he won was amazing, and the delight of Sheikh Mohammed seeing his favourite horse win the race he had been named for (2000 – Millennium) was unforgettable.

“However, the international focus is the main key and Sheikh Mohammed is the first to congratulate the winners – Victoire Pisa winning the World Cup in 2011 for Japan just after the earthquake and tsunami in their country springs to mind.

“But it is not just about us and the racing. The social scene is immense and the meeting is one of the big social occasions in the UAE, a date in most calendars.

“Meydan is a massive venue and will be packed on Saturday – a great venue for a great race.”

The second Godolphin trainer, Charlie Appleby, is saddling World Cup night runners for the first time in his own name.

He said: “It is really exciting to have my first World Cup night runners on what is certain to be an amazing occasion.

“The World Cup night atmosphere is always amazing – it was at Nad Al Sheba and it is at Meydan.

“I have long been involved with Godolphin and enjoyed plenty of World Cup nights, but this one is going to be a little bit special, having runners in my own name. “I cannot wait.”

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Bin Suroor confident of World Cup chances

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Trained to win: Bin Suroor feels his horses have a real chance of victory this weekend.

A cosmopolitan gathering of horses from seven different countries will contest the US$10 million Emirates Dubai World Cup at Meydan racecourse, in Dubai, on Saturday.

A maximum 16-runner field has assembled for one of the most open events in the 19-year history of the world's richest race.

Ruler Of The World, trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, vies for the favourite's billing in the 2,000-metre contest with Military Attack and Akeed Mofeed, a pair of runners from Hong Kong.

Local hopes centre around three horses owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

The sheikh's Godolphin enterprise is represented by Vancouverite and Cat O'Mountain, from Charlie Appleby's stable, and African Story.

The latter is trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, who saddles a second runner in Prince Bishop. Bin Suroor has won the Dubai World Cup five times, most recently with Moon Ballad in 2002.

"I feel good about our chances," said Bin Suroor. "My horses have trained well in the build-up to the race. I expect both of them to be prominent in the early stages and they can both accelerate."

British hopes rest with Red Cadeaux, Hillstar, Side Glance and Mukhadram, who is owned by Sheikh Mohammed's brother, Sheikh Hamdan.

Red Cadeaux and Side Glance finished second and fourth respectively in last year's race.

"Red Cadeaux likes the warm weather here in Dubai," said Ed Dunlop, who trains the eight-year-old. "It looks like anyone's race and if you offered me second place again, I would take it."

Hong Kong's record is poor but John Moore, the Australian who trains in Hong Kong, believes Military Attack has what it takes.

"I was delighted when my horse ended up in stall eight (at Wednesday's Post Position draw)," Moore said. "He is tactically versatile so we can wait and see how the race unfolds around us before we make our move."

Japan fields a pair of runners in Hokko Tarumae and Belshazzar, the latter winner of the prestigious Japan Cup Dirt in December.

Belshazzar's trainer, Kunihide Matsuda, was delighted to get stall two.

"It will be a victory draw for us," Matsuda predicted.

Completing the cast are Ron The Greek, representing Saudi Arabia, and Shanshaawes, from South Africa.

Yet despite the international flavour, there is no US runner for the first time since the World Cup was inaugurated in 1996.

The synthetic racing surface installed at Meydan has seen US dominance – established when the event was run on dirt – wane considerably since the racecourse laid down a Tapeta surface four years ago.

Australia, another prominent racing nation, has no representative at all.

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Shea Shea Shoots For Second Al Quoz Victory

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Spectators at the richest day of racing will be treated to a fascinating renewal of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Saturday with last year’s winner Shea Shea (SAF) back to defend his crown against new kid in town, the Hong Kong speedball, Amber Sky (AUS).

Shea Shea is the form horse at Meydan, holding the track record set last year and winning the Super Saturday 2014 Meydan Sprint on his seasonal debut. 

Trainer, Mike de Kock’s hopes were bolstered when his charge was drawn 12 of 12 on Wednesday and, therefore, gets to race along his beloved standside rail. His jockey, Soumillon was understandably delighted with the news.

“I soon learned that he likes a bit of cover and a rail to race against so that is the ideal draw,” he said.

Hong Kong speedster Amber Sky (Aus), trained by Ricky Yiu, could not have been more impressive when winning a 1000m Sha Tin dash in January and looks a massive danger to De Kock’s charge.

He and work rider Raymond Tam were out in the heavy rain early on Wednesday morning. Tam joked: “The weather did not faze him and he was a lot happier than I was out there.”

Compatriot and ten-year-old veteran, Joy And Fun (NZ), actually won this race for trainer Derek Cruz the first year it was contested on Dubai World Cup night, when it was run over 1200m in 2010. He was then third in 2012 and second last year after the switch to 1000m.

Ahtoug (GB) was Charlie Appleby’s first 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival runner when landing a 1000m turf handicap back at the first meeting in early January. He has since been unable to find winning ways, coming up against Shea Shea but his trainer is pleased with his charge.

Appleby said: “We were obviously delighted with that first win but nothing went right on his second start when he was drawn on the wrong side.

“He bounced back with a very good second behind Medicean Man but excelled on Super Saturday, finding only Shea Shea too good over Saturday’s course and distance.

“Hopefully he has another big run in him.”

Dual Group 1 winner, Sole Power (GB), representing Ireland was fourth to Shea Shea 12 months ago having been just in front of Joy And Fun when second in 2012. He and Shea Shea have clashed regularly and the Eddie Lynam-trained sprinter did beat his old rival at Royal Ascot last year, just denying him in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, also over 1000m.

The Doug Watson-trained Dux Scholar (GB) and Jeremy Gask’s Medicean Man (GB) are both course and distance winners with Gask’s stable star actually winning at the Dubai World Cup Carnival both this year and in 2013.

Representing France, the Philippe Sogorb-trained Catcall (FR) merits plenty of respect after his career-best second in last year’s Prix de L’Abbaye at Longchamp.

He has been beaten by both Shea Shea and Medicean Man this year at Meydan Racecourse but it would be premature to write him off.

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