It is early to rise for Narpat Singh, groomer to Murfarrh and two other horses, especially as Dubai World Cup night draws closer. Amith Passela explains.
Dubai World Cup: Morning comes earlier for winners at Meydan
For Narpat Singh, there is even more enthusiasm and motivation involved as one of the three horses hetends is one of three Grandstand entries in the Dubai World Cup on Saturday.
His thoughts, these days, are of Mufarrh. He has a daily prayer, too, for the 6-year-old son of Marju to remain in good health for his run in the US$1 million (Dh3.67m) Godolphin Mile.
"I am as excited and looking forward for the race as everyone else connected to him," Narpat said.
"First thing in the morning, I check his feed. If he has cleaned up the feed the night before, it means all is well. If not, I have to report it to the foreman or the assistant trainer.
"Then I check the temperature. The temp goes on a chart, so that any abnormal variation in temperature is caught early. If the horse wears bandages, I have to take them off in the mornings, and check the legs for heat or swelling.
"Many small injuries don't show up right away, but they will show up as a change in a horse's attitude. He may not clean up his feed or maybe he just will act a little sour.
"If all is OK, I start mucking and cleaning the stable. Then I get his head collar fitted and attend to him. I check and clean the hoofs, mop up his face with a sponge and then start brushing him.
"By the time I have readied him, the jockeys and work riders will have arrived around 4.30am. I help them to saddle and take him for his workout. When they are away, I attend to the next two horses under my care. When the horse returns from the track, the riders will take off the saddle and I get his head collar back. I take him for a cool-down walk and let him have some water. If the weather is not too cold, I give him a good bath, shampoo him, dry him and then take him back to his stable. I follow the same routine of the other two horses under my care.
"Once all that is done, I serve their breakfast and tell them in their horsey language to enjoy it. It would be around 10am by the time I have done the first part of my work.
"I have a shower, have my breakfast and relax a bit. If there is a cricket match, I would sit in front of the television until lunch time and then continue watching the game until the second shift starts at 2.30pm.
"Again we start by mucking and cleaning the stable. Give the horse another grooming and take them out for a 15-minute walk between 3.30-4pm. Then do a final clean-up of the stable and have their feed served around 5.30pm and we are done for the day. I get back to my room, have a shower and then join my friends for either a little chat or watch cricket if there is a game on. We have dinner around 7pm and usually go to bed around 9pm."
Narpat, 31, had no experience with horses until he arrived at the Metropolitan Stables in Dubai more than 10 years ago.
"The foreman of the Metro stable was my neighbour in India and he got me a job," said Narpat, who worked for four years for the trainer Jaci Wickham until she took charge of the Al W'Rsan stable in Abu Dhabi. "When she left, most of her staff moved to the Grandstand. I am a bit fortunate, too, because this is the second time I have a horse under my care running in the Dubai World Cup day."
Jet Express ran in the same Godolphin Mile in 2010. He was tailed off behind the Godolphin runner Calming Influence.
Narpat holds out more hope for Mufarrh.
"Jet Express won four races in a row including the Listed Jebel Ali Mile," said Narpat, who has a wife, daughter and son back in India.
"I was a bit disappointed, too, but that's what horse racing is all about.
"I have high expectations from Mufarrh, though, and hopefully he will run a big race."
It is his third win since he arrived, in the 2010/11 season, from John Dunlop's stable in the United Kingdom.
"I have taken care of him for more than two years and we both understand each other very well," Narpat said. "He's very receptive and I have never had any problem with him. He is very friendly all day."
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