A conversation with Secret Ambition

First-season trainer Bhupat Seemar says it’s important to watch and listen to the horse

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Leading trainer Bhupat Seemar with Secret Ambition at the Zabeel Stables on Friday. — Photos by Shihab
Leading trainer Bhupat Seemar with Secret Ambition at the Zabeel Stables on Friday. — Photos by Shihab

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 11:41 PM

It is no secret that one of trainer Bhupat Seemar’s biggest ambitions is to excel on the big stage, a stage like which the $30.5 million Dubai World Cup meeting will present, two weeks from now.

And as fate would have it, it appears that Bhupat, who has been a revelation in his debut season, has just the ammunition to help him hit the target with a horse who goes by the name of Secret Ambition.

A strapping nine-year-old, who Bhupat fondly describes as being a ‘big fellow,’ with a heart to match, Secret Ambition will bid to become the first horse to win the $1million Godolphin Mile (Group 1), in successive years.

Twelve months ago, the thriving eight-year-old claimed the biggest prize of his lengthy career when he dominated some of the world’s best dirt milers to win the 1,600 metre contest, by an imposing six-lengths.

Nothing has changed over the past year. On the contrary, the son of Exceed And Excel’s hunger and ability seem to have blossomed under the watch of the Zabeel Stables staff, to the extent that he will line up in this year’s renewal of the Mile, as the big international favourite.

“His record speaks for itself,” a characteristically modest Bhupat told Khaleej Times. “He won the Firebreak and then the Godolphin Mile, last year, so we knew how good he was.

“We brought him back for Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge this year, where he needed the race. Although, he finished a good second.

“Obviously, it’s hard to get a nine-year-old fit, first time out, and you always want to leave a little in them, so that they can improve for the race,” Seemar explained. “He went down fighting on that day, but fitness got the better of him.”

Bhupat then sent Secret Ambition to contest the $20 million Saudi Cup in Riyadh where the horse looked to have every chance approaching the final two furlongs before he buckled under pressure to finish seventh.

“He ran a good race against some very good horses,” Bhupat said, springing to his stable star’s defence. “But unfortunately his scope (veterinary examination) wasn’t very good. He showed up some mucus, perhaps due to the travel.

“Perhaps this was why he did not run his true race. Had he done so, he might have finished closer for sure.”

Bhupat explains that there is no secret to training racehorses of the caliber, and age, of Secret Ambition. “You’ve got to keep their mind right and you’ve got to keep them sound. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Basically I think you’ve got to look at the horse and listen to the horse rather than force them to do what you want from them. It’s counter-productive if you do that.

“He’s not an easy horse to train as he has an entire mind of his own. You can’t bully him. He knows he’s the man, you’ve got to learn to get along with him and go by his terms and then pull him into what you want him to really to do.”

So what does he tell you?

“He’s good, he’s ready. The key for the next few weeks is to keep him healthy and sound and then hope that he gets a good draw,” said Bhupat, who currently leads the UAE Trainer’s Championship by a wide margin of 42 winners.

“What we’ve achieved is due to the good teamwork at the stable.” said the handler. “We’re really proud of what we have accomplished. It’s a great achievement for everyone.”

Bhupat shows how logic can demonstrate one’s philosophy when he summed it all up and said: “It’s great to have a horse like Secret Ambition going into the big day, but what matters most is whether he can cross the line first.”

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