x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bin Suroor hopes for change of fortune with Poet's Voice

The Godolphin man was the leading trainer at the Dubai International Racing Carnival, but he has failed to match that success in the English season.

Frankie Dettori, pictured here on Antara, will saddle Poet's Voice today for Saeed bin Suroor, right, in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood.
Frankie Dettori, pictured here on Antara, will saddle Poet's Voice today for Saeed bin Suroor, right, in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

Aeschylus, the Greek tragedian, wrote that men in exile feed on dreams of hope. Since Saeed bin Suroor left for Britain, after being crowned the leading trainer at the Dubai International Racing Carnival in March, he has experienced a difficult season, by his high standards.

On Saturday he hopes to see an upturn in his fortunes when Poet's Voice bids to justify heavy expectation in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

Earlier this week the race looked a tall order, but due to persistent rain Strong Suit, who was snapped up two weeks ago by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar, and Zoffany, who chased home Frankel at Royal Ascot, were scratched on Thursday. Only six other horses go to the post, including bin Suroor's second hope, Emerald Commander.

Bin Suroor's record in Group races in Britain this season stands at just two wins from 33 runs; Delegator's fluid performance won the Duke Of York Stakes in May and Antara in June captured the Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

The Meydan Racecourse success of Khawlah, in the UAE Derby, and Skysurfers, in the Godolphin Mile, are but distant memories.

The 42-year-old Emirati is without a win in a Group 1 race since Mastery scored in the Hong Kong Vase in December. For a man who has compiled a worldwide portfolio of achievement, his current predicament equates to lean times.

Such is the malaise that engulfs his 115-box Godolphin Stables that the run of Poet's Voice assumes an increased significance.

The bay colt was bin Suroor's highest-earning horse in Britain last year. The next five in the list read White Moonstone, Rio De La Palata, Shakespearean, Saamidd and Hibaayeb, none of which have won in Europe in 2011. White Moonstone and Saamidd suffered injuries, but bin Suroor's older horses simply have not fired or have not been good enough.

His juveniles, however, have been flying with eight wins from just 22 runners. It would indicate a bright future, but bin Suroor is uncharacteristically downbeat.

"It is the same as last year. Winning maidens is easy," he said. "When they step up to better quality races, then we will see."

Poet's Voice is on a retrieval mission having fluffed his lines in the Dubai World Cup. Running over 2,000m for just the second time in his 13-race career, the son of Dubawi pulled hard to squander his chance under Frankie Dettori. The four year old has previous form in this department after he almost pulled the Italian's arms out in last season's Champion Stakes, won by Twice Over.

"He was far too keen in Dubai," bin Suroor said. "He cannot race out in front but needs to be dropped in. He is a lot better when he is put behind horses, like when he won the QEII last season."

In September at Ascot Poet's Voice was held up in last place off a generous pace and displayed a willing attitude to hunt down Rip Van Winkle from 600m out and overhaul him by a nose.

Rip Van Winkle pushed Sea The Stars all the way on three occasions in 2009 before beating Twice Over in the International at York 12 months ago. It shows that when Poet's Voice is in form he can match strides with the best.

With the comebacks of White Moonstone and Saamidd on the horizon, things can only get better for Godolphin's long-standing trainer, who gave Poet's Voice a spin on Wednesday and believes that his charge was "ready to go".

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