DUBAI // It has been a stellar year for Emirati trainers, with Saeed bin Suroor crowned the Dubai Carnival's leading trainer and Ali al Raihe likely to receive the UAE title.
Their success has been an inspiration to Mahmood al Zarooni, the Godolphin trainer who has benefited from working previously under both men.
Al Zarooni, a 34-year-old who was born on the Deira side of Dubai Creek, will saddle eight horses on World Cup day.
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"I am very happy for Emirati trainers. I like to see them not only perform in Dubai, but also around the world," he said yesterday at Godolphin's Al Quoz stables. "I am from Dubai, I am representing my country and if they send me to the moon I would be happy to represent them."
Al Zarooni shot to prominence last year when he won the Godolphin Mile with Calming Influence, his first runner as a trainer. It illustrated that the pupil had learnt from his former masters, and 12 months on he appears to hold a leading chance of a repeat victory in the race.
Al Zarooni's skills were tested to the limit this season by Rileyskeepingfaith, who was transferred to the Godolphin fold having finished 15th of 17 for Mick Channon in October. Eyebrows were raised when he joined Godolphin, but with a little perseverance, and a little help it seems, the five-year-old vies for favouritism with Red Jazz and stablemate Skysurfers.
"When he arrived I looked at his form and as he had been running over six furlongs we tried him over it," al Zarooni said. "He finished second. We thought it might be the surface, so we tried him over the Tapeta over the same distance, but he kept getting chased along from the stalls.
"I went to his Highness and he said the horse was not being given the chance to travel. We went from six furlongs up to a mile and he won the race nicely."
Rewilding is another that holds an excellent chance for al Zarooni.
The four-year-old, who lines up in the Sheema Classic, has not seen a racecourse since finishing sixth at the St Leger in England in September, and was not among the 38 horses that worked in front of the media glare yesterday morning.
"I felt bad because we didn't know what the problem was," said al Zarooni of Rewilding's disappointing run at Doncaster. "We took him back home and found nothing.
"We took him to the vet to check him, but it seems that it was not his day. I think he needs to be fresh, which is why he has had a lay-off."