Dubai World Cup: Meet the Emirati trainer who put Godolphin on the global map

I remind myself of how privileged I am to be allowed a personal audience with a man who epitomises racing royalty, writes Leslie Wilson Jr

By Leslie Wilson Jr

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Saeed bin Suroor aims to win his 10th Dubai World Cup trophy today. (KT file)
Saeed bin Suroor aims to win his 10th Dubai World Cup trophy today. (KT file)

Published: Sat 26 Mar 2022, 2:17 AM

I have known Saeed bin Suroor, the champion Emirati trainer, for over 25 years. However, every time I have interviewed him, it always seems like a whole new experience.

As soon as I enter his functional office, which is housed on the mezzanine floor of the iconic, arched building that leads to the world-famous Godolphin stables in Dubai, I remind myself of how privileged I am to be allowed a personal audience with a man who epitomises racing royalty.

Saeed is seated at his spacious desk, which is large enough on which to play a game of table tennis, sporting a spotless white kandura and a royal blue baseball cap, a Godolphin staff staple.

His long-serving private assistant (PA), Faisal, brings me a cup of gahwa (Arabic coffee), as Saeed casually asks me “how is your dog?”

That is a pitch-perfect opening gambit you can wish for, but then Saeed is an inveterate animal lover himself. He has been living with horses for the better part of his 53 years.

These noblest of animals have helped define his career and he is the first to acknowledge that fact.

It was my turn to speak, and I politely asked him what memory he cherished most.

“Looking back, what stands out for me is being brought up by my mother. I wake up every morning thankful for that. Everything else I have achieved has been a bonus,” said the former Dubai Police employee.

What a stellar career graph he has had.

He has notched up nine Dubai World Cup victories, 12 British Classic wins, four British trainer’s Championships, eight Leading Trainers’ titles at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and over 2,000 race wins around the globe, with almost 200 of these at G1 level.

Besides his many horse racing awards, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, honoured Saeed for his services to horseracing at the 2015 UAE Pioneer Awards ceremony. Saeed also received the Local Trainer Award at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards in January 2018.

Saeed is also blessed with a phenomenal memory. He also has all the characteristics of a reflective personality.

“For me, the past does not exist. It’s there, you don’t want to erase it, but I think it counts for nothing. It is the present and the future that matters most,” he said.

“My career has been amazing, far beyond expectations. But in this sport, you must move on, take up more challenges, risks, win more races, travel further, everything.

“If you live in the past, you put the present and future in jeopardy,” he said.

“In this sport, every moment matters, every race. You don’t only want to win the big races. Winning boosts the confidence in the stable and motivates the people who work better with you,” he added.

As I attempt to process what he has told me, I find it a bit difficult not to be distracted, once again, by his simplicity, and his honesty.

Without trying to sound condescending, I would say interviewing Saeed is always something I look forward to. There is an unflinching consistency in his expressions, which I have come to understand and appreciate, over the years.

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