Saeed Bin Suroor is the most successful trainer in the history of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, and he enjoyed another excellent night last Friday, saddling three winners.
They included Desert Fire, who popped up for a surprise success in the Group 2 Al-Rashidiya.
Having been training since the inception of Godolphin in the early 1990s, Saeed could be forgiven for being a little stuck in his ways.
Not a bit of it — he’s often trying to do things differently and something that has come to light in recent seasons is his willingness to use a wide range of jockeys. In the UK in 2021, the former policeman used 35 different riders on his horses and so far in the UAE this season he has used five.
His longstanding association with Frankie Dettori is well established — “we have been friends for 27 years” — and means the Italian gets the pick of the rides but, in truth, choosing the best one isn’t all that easy.
Let’s use Desert Fire as an example. He looked the second choice of Saeed’s runners in the Al-Rashidiya, with Dettori on board Bedouin’s Story. That gave young jockey Hector Crouch the mount on Desert Fire, an opportunity he grabbed, collecting his biggest success to date on the seven-year-old. Later on, Pat Cosgrave was the beneficiary of Saeed’s jockey shuffle, bolting up in the Rated Conditions race on Dubai Icon.
“We know that Frankie gets on the first string, but beyond that, he does try to split it quite evenly,” said Crouch, who rides Bin Battuta for Bin Suroor in the Listed Al Khail Trophy on Friday. “It lets us all have a chance and there aren’t any bad rides for Saeed, especially in Dubai.”
As well as Crouch, Bin Suroor has been pivotal in developing the careers of several young riders, with UK Champion Apprentice Marco Ghiani among those to benefit from his support last year. His successes included riding Real World to victory in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York, before Dettori took over on the gelding when he won a Group 2 in France in October. As is the modus operandi, the senior rider will be on Real World when he runs in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile at Meydan on Friday, one of nine runners for the trainer on the card.
Bin Suroor’s Godolphin colleague Charlie Appleby runs eight on Friday’s eight-race card and has several strong chances, including with Star Safari, who drops in grade in the Listed Zabeel Turf, while Man of Promise should be hard to beat in the concluding Listed Dubai Sprint.
The most exciting horse on show on Friday won’t carry the Godolphin blue, however. Her name is Shahama. She is trained by Bahraini Fawzi Nass for KHK Racing, and she has just five rivals to beat in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas. She’s two from two in her career and should be able to make it three here. If she does, then exciting targets could lie ahead, including a possible trip to America for the Kentucky Oaks in May.
Elsewhere on the card, it’s great to see Australia return to the carnival with their first runners since 2019. Adelaide trainer Will Clarken has sent over two; He’s A Balter and Parsifal, who will contest the 1,200 meter turf sprints that bookend the card. They will be both be ridden by Caitlin Jones, who says it’s a “dream come true” to be riding in Dubai.