Bhupat Seemar targets third season of success on trot after flying start to trainer life

Quality rather than quantity at Zabeel Stables this year with number of horses training down from around 135 to 85

Zabeel Stables trainer Bhupat Seemar, left, alongside UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Thrust into the Zabeel Stables hot seat in 2021-2022, Bhupat Seemar made an immediate impact by winning the UAE championship title in his first season as a trainer.

He took second spot behind Doug Watson the following season but for the second time in his career topped the money list.

In the US, UK, France and Ireland, the trainer’s championship is won by the highest prize money earning trainer which would have given Seemar the title both seasons. However, in the UAE it’s decided by the number of winners.

Seemar’s accomplishments don’t come as a surprise, though, as he spent 19 years as assistant to his uncle Satish Seemar, a six-time champion and the longest serving and all-time leading trainer in the UAE with 893 winners.

With two fantastic seasons behind him, Bhupat Seemar, 45, believes another is on the way.

“I've been really privileged to be here. I've been put in this position by the team before me. We've got some good clientele, some good horses. We had an exceptionally amazing first year,” Seemar told The National.

“We didn’t win the championship by one winner in our first year. We won it by six winners. We were also the leading money-earner in two seasons. That's what my clients' horses are for. There are some nice new clients, and of course looking to a good season.”

The first season was a dream come true for Seemar. Winning the trainer’s title and then the $2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with Switzerland on the Dubai World Cup night came as the "cherry on top".

“It was just amazing to have a horse like Switzerland,” he said. “I know what we did different was that during the race to we let him gather his own pace and let him get into his own rhythm and stride and then use his turn of foot to finish the race.

“While some other experts attribute it all to him being gelded. Which I don’t agree with as when you geld a horse at a later stage the effects are only minimal.”

“That is very hard to do because most sprint horses want to go forward. We just let him come out of the gate, find his own stride, find his own rhythm, and he's got a devastating finish.”

On his title defence last time out, Switzerland was beaten in a photo by American raider Sibelius under Ryan Moore.

“That was heart-breaking,” Seemar conceded. “It was one of those things when everything worked out for the winner as he got a dream run on the side and the railing opened up for Ryan Moore to squeeze through and we had to go around.

“Switzerland finished the race like a steam train but just the finish line came an inch too soon for him.”

Switzerland, now nine, remains the star of the older horses in the stables and Seemar has the same plan for him this season.

“He’s in training and we have the same plan, to give him a prep run before the Golden Shaheen.”

Seemar has fewer runners in training than last season, but believes he has more quality than quantity.

“I had about 135 last season, that is now down to about 85,” he said. “One of my big clients had a dispersal. We could've bought those, but instead we bought other horses for my new client from outside, and hopefully we've got some quality.

“I don't like to jinx it but yes, we do have a very exciting, very high-profile owner, first time joining Zabeel Stables.”

Seemar has a business degree but instead of working in an office he chose horses, and looking back, it was the right choice.

“Sometimes I do think life would have probably been easier had I not worked with horses but this is what you love,” he said.

“I'm so happy and glad where I am. Hopefully this keeps going. When you wake up in the morning and you wake up with a smile because you're happy to go to work, I think that says a lot about the profession you're in.

“Horses give you the highest highs and sometimes the other way as you invest so much of your time and effort in the sport and expectations are always high.”

Bhupat Seemar’s five older horses to follow this season

1. Switzerland: A nine-year-old Speightstown gelding that won the $2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2022 and was runner-up in 2023. He will be aiming for the prize again on the Dubai World Cup night.

2. Remorse: A sort that has won two handicaps and a Listed prize in the UAE. The six-year-old Dubawi gelding was unplaced when stepped up in class in the 2022 Dubai World Cup.

3. Tuz: Winner of a Group 3 and a Listed prize, the six-year-old Oxbow gelding was seventh, beaten by only three-and-a-half lengths in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.

4. Freedom Fighter: Yet to get off the mark in five starts in the UAE after his debut win in Delaware. The five-year-old son of Violence finished runner-up, third and fourth in three Group 3 starts.

5. Al Nefud: The former Godolphin inmate won his first two starts in the UAE and was runner-up behind Hot Rod Charlie in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2. The five-year-old Dubawi gelding was unplaced in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night.

Updated: October 26, 2023, 4:07 PM