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No challenge too big for record-breaker Saeed bin Suroor

Emirati handler plots dirt race wins at Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup with turf star Real World



The real deal: Godolphin star Real World en route to winning the Group2 Zabeel Mile during the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the Meydan racecourse on January 28. — Dubai Racing Club
The real deal: Godolphin star Real World en route to winning the Group2 Zabeel Mile during the Dubai World Cup Carnival at the Meydan racecourse on January 28. — Dubai Racing Club

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 12:00 AM

Saeed bin Suroor has spent the best part of his life training horses that he has sent out to win some of the biggest races in the world.

He has done this since 1995 when he was hand-picked by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to take charge of his global stable, Godolphin.

While winning has been the yard’s overriding philosophy it’s the big races that matter and the ones that bin Suroor seeks out each year, as potential targets.

There are very few of these elite races that have not fallen to the guile of the Emirati handler who is blessed with unique skills and the ability to nurture a horse into a big-race contender.

Jockey Christophe Soumillon and trainer Saeed bin Suroor (right) hold aloft the trophies after Thunder Snow won the 2018 Dubai World Cup. — AP
Jockey Christophe Soumillon and trainer Saeed bin Suroor (right) hold aloft the trophies after Thunder Snow won the 2018 Dubai World Cup. — AP

Bin Suroor does it with stars like Lammtarra, who won the Epsom Derby (G1) and King George (G1) in 1995, Daylami in the Breeders’ Cup, Sakhee in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai Millennium the 2000 Dubai World Cup (G1) and more recently with Thunder Snow, who won back-to-back Dubai World Cups in 2018-2019.

The most successful trainer by far in the 27-year history of the Dubai World Cup, bin Suroor is now poised to win it for the 10th time.

It is well documented that it takes a special dirt horse to win the 2,000 metre contest at Meydan, yet bin Suroor is hatching a plot with a stable star that boasts exemplary form, but on the turf.

Real World, who has strung together five impressive victories dating back to June 2021, where he won the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, is being prepared for an assault at this year’s race.

However, there is an interesting twist to the plot. First up, the five-year-old son of Dark Angel will be aimed at Saturday’s $20m Saudi Cup in Riyadh, a race in which bin Suroor’s Benbatl finished third in 2020.

The world’s richest race was always on the radar for bin Suroor, and although Real World will encounter dirt for the first time, the Emirati handler is not overly concerned.

“It’s unfair sometimes to run a horse who is not ready on the dirt and he gets beat because people say that he is not a dirt horse,” the trainer explained from his stable star won the Group 2 Zabeel Mile over turf on January 28 at Meydan.

“But Real World has the running style that will be suited for dirt. He has been training well on the tapeta at home, We’ve done it before (switching from turf to dirt).

“He’s a really good mover and has improved physically from last year. He is fit and ready and we don’t think going further will be a problem,” he added.

Real World will face defending champion Mishriff, multiple Grade 1 scorer Mandaloun, and Japanese hopeful T O among others.


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