Tadhg O’Shea and Bhupat Seemar achieve 'stuff of dreams' with Dubai World Cup win

Laurel River trounces 12-runner field to give jockey and trainer biggest triumph of their careers

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Bhupat Seemar and stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea fulfilled lifelong dreams as they won the $12 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup with Laurel River at Meydan on Saturday.

It was a first for both trainer and jockey and a night to remember for the Zabeel Stables duo after their horse produced a scintillating run to clinch the 2,000-metre race by eight-and-a-half lengths.

Seemar and O’Shea not only won the biggest prize of the night but were celebrating a double after winning the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with Tuz, a prize they also won with Switzerland in 2022.

“In 2001, I didn't think 23 years later I'd be winning one of the world's richest races,” said O’Shea.

“I didn't think I'd be winning the Dubai World Cup but you know, all this would not be possible without the team. I'm just very, very grateful to all of them.

“I have to pinch myself. I've been very fortunate out here to win multiple championships and to ride any winner on this stage is special. And I've been fortunate enough to ride this fellow. I sensed the other morning after his gallop but I didn't want to jinx it. I didn't tell anyone.

“I have never ever ridden a horse to feel like it. There were question marks on his stamina and whatever but hats off to Juddmonte Farm. They are a worldwide recognised organisation and could have any jockey in the world. They kept faith with me.

“I tell you one thing; I have never ridden one as good as him. I never dreamt I would win the Dubai World Cup – it really is the stuff of dreams. He behaved like a pony; he hit the gates and did everything from the front, it was unbelievable. He gave himself every chance to get the distance, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Breaking from the widest gate in the 12-runner field, the six-year-old son of Into Mischief had O'Shea in the lead ahead of the first turn.

He then pulled away in the far turn and led by as many as 10 lengths in the stretch to eventually come home eight-and-a-half lengths ahead of last year’s winner Ushba Tesoro and the $20 million Saudi Cup winner Senor Buscador.

“It’s an indescribable feeling to train the horse in Dubai,” Seemar said. “I’ve grown up here almost, I’ve been here 21 years. I thought I would probably never have a horse to run in the Dubai World Cup, and to win it is the stuff of dreams.

“I would like to thank Juddmonte and His Royal Highness for sending me the horse. I was worried that they might be going too fast but Tadhg got the right fractions and also a breather into him.

“It’s the greatest feeling to have won this race, but what he was doing in the mornings made me think, ‘what has this horse got?’. There is so much stamina in his pedigree but his training was out of this world.”

The victory took O’Shea’s tally to 49 in the UAE jockey’s championship, seven ahead of his closest challenger Connor Beasley with two meetings left, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, in the coming weekend.

Seemar is now level in the trainer’s championship title race with Michael Costa on 36 winners apiece, but the Zabeel trainer is ahead in the second and third place finishes, which will give him a second trainer’s title if the winning numbers are tied.

Ushba Tesoro's jockey Yuga Kawada said: “He was in good form and he ran his race. It was a good run. We managed to beat Senor Buscador today but the winner was too fast and stayed really well in front. We will be prepared for the Breeders’ Cup and I believe Del Mar will suit him better than Santa Anita.”

Senor Buscador's trainer Todd Fincher said: “He brings it every time, he ran a really good race. He might have started his run a little early trying to catch Laurel River and maybe that cost us a placing. Hats off to Laurel River, he freaked on everybody there.

“We were hoping there would be a little pace in there, but Laurel River is a nice horse and you’re not going to catch a horse like that if he gets loose. That’s what we’re up against, he’s got to have some pace to run at. It’s very rare in a Grade 1 race that there’s no pace, but we are very proud of him.”

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Updated: March 30, 2024, 8:04 PM