'Mankind' comes first for Satish Seemar as he wins sixth UAE trainer’s championship title
Zabeel Stables look to keep 125 horses in training for next season
Satish Seemar has dedicated his sixth UAE trainer’s championship title to “mankind” after the outbreak of the Coronavirus caused the cancellation of the Dubai World Cup and brought the racing season to an abrupt halt.
Racing was staged behind closed doors for a while before the organisers of the Dubai World Cup and the Emirates Racing Authority called off the event and the remaining race meetings as per the UAE government’s directives for people to stay at home.
“Safety was paramount,” Seemar told The National. “The Covid-19 is something new and came out of the blue.
“It was hard for everyone but a great decision to cancel the meeting, considering it was the silver jubilee anniversary of the Dubai World Cup.
“I had five entries across three races in the Dubai World Cup meeting and they had realistic chances. But we’ll have to do away with it for the sake of mankind.”
Seemar was bullish of his entries in the Group 1 $2.5million (Dh9m) Dubai Golden Shaheen, Group 2 $1.5million Godolphin Mile, and the Group 2 $2.5million UAE Derby.
The Zabeel Stables star three-year-olds Emblem Storm and Tuz took the first two spots in the Listed Al Bastakiya, traditionally the UAE Derby trial.
The cancellation of the Dubai World Cup meeting means they will both not get to race in the UAE classic as they turn four next season.
“We can only hope that these two will do well as older horses,” Seemar said. “That was a pity because I was confident about their chances.
“But we never know what they could have achieved in the UAE Derby. That’s racing and what happened was beyond anyone’s control. We will have to leave it at that.”
Seemar said winning his sixth trainer’s title after 13 years was a morale booster for his stable staff and the new owners who brought their horses to his stables.
“It has been a bit of an up and down for me since I last won the trainer’s title,” the former pupil to the legendary American trainer Monty Roberts, said.
“Perhaps a few Arabians in a country where there are mixed race meetings (thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians) may have mattered when you lose the championship by two or three winners.
“However, for me the objective was to win some quality races rather than the numbers. However, having said that, it’s very nice to win the championship that certainly lifts the moral of the stable staff.
“I’m so proud to say I have one of the best teams. They are very hard working and this championship is for them as well, and it feels great to have this title every now and then.”
Seemar is the longest serving trainer in the UAE and he was on 45 winners, nine ahead of Doug Watson, when the season was abandoned with six meetings still left.
Seemar is the most successful trainer with 857 career winners so far but his resurgence this season, by his own admission, was due to the number of new owners that have joined him.
“I was going through re-organising the stables in the last two seasons as new ownerships were coming in with the horse sales in Dubai,” he said.
“All that hard work and coordination have paid off. We are now looking at the future, to be even better.”
The Zabeel Stables had 125 horses in training and will have a similar number for next season.
“We will try to keep the similar numbers so I can manage,” he said. “It is quite a big number to have compared to the others. Hopefully we’ll keep the better ones with some of the older horses set to move out.”
Gladiator King, who won two Group 3 prizes in the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan before finishing a creditable third in the Saudi Cup meeting’s Saudi Sprint, was one of the new stars of the season.
“We put him off for the season after he returned with an injury at the Saudi Cup meeting,” Seemar said of the five-year-old son of the 2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin.
“He got a bump and suffered a little nick. That wound was infected, so we had to keep him out of the Dubai World Cup meeting.”
North America, who ran three times in the Dubai World Cup, will also remain in training.
“He didn’t fully recover with his foot problem after running third in the Al Maktoum Challenge Roind-2,” Seemar said of the eight-year-old Dubawi gelding.
“Next season, there are some late bloomers like Bochart (winner of two valuable Carnival handicaps). He got better with age (seven) and nearly broke the track record. He’s a loyal, talented and consistent horse.”
Seemar’s pick from all his runners for the season was Wafy, who was campaigned in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid when trained by Charles Hills in the UK.
The five-year-old Dubawi gelding won both his local starts, including the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal in the Dubai World Cup Carnival in his last start.
“Wafy was very exciting,” Seemar said of Emirati owner Nasir Askar’s new acquisition.
“Both his runs were impressive. We couldn’t test him in a big race (Dubai Golden Shaheen), unfortunately. These kind of horses are very exciting when they run and improve.”
Updated: March 24, 2020 03:37 PM