Stunned Bhupat Seemar 'still coming to terms' with Dubai World Cup glory

Zabeel Stables trainer and jockey Tadhg O’Shea secured brilliant double at Meydan Racecourse

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The 28th edition of the Dubai World Cup will forever be remembered as Bhupat Seemar and Tadhg O’Shea's day.

The Zabeel Stables trainer and jockey racked-up a double, rounding off the nine-race card meeting with Laurel River scooping the $12 million Dubai World Cup after their triumph with Tuz earlier in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan on Saturday.

Seemar earned a slice of the prize monies in the $1 million Godolphin Mile when Walk Of Stars (O’Shea) and Southern Artist (Antonio Fresu) finished second and fourth, respectively.

Mendelssohn Bay and Leading Spirit were also in the money when placed fourth in the $1 million UAE Derby and sixth in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, both ridden by Patrick Cosgrave.

“I’m still coming to terms with what’s happened,” Seemar said of Laurel River's win at the post-race conference.

“I think it’ll probably sink in another day or two. It’s absolutely amazing. Tadhg said this morning ‘we’re drawn 12, I’m not going to be two-minded about it, I’m going to go forward.’

“He’s got so much natural pace. He comes out of the gate and this is why we ran him over six furlongs [in the Al Shindagha Sprint].

“Tadhg was able to get some easy fractions and then I saw Defunded coming on his outside but he just kept on going further. I expected to see all the closers flying at him but he kept going.

“I was a small kid when I was watching these colours [Juddmonte] winning some of the biggest races in the world.

“What the late Prince Khalid Abdullah has done for racing is amazing, I couldn’t believe I was going to be training the horse for that farm and in those colours. And now to win one of the world’s great races for them is unbelievable.”

Just over two hours earlier, O’Shea and Seemar were celebrating Tuz’s win in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, adding a second success in the race after Switzerland had given them their first triumph in a Group 1 thoroughbred race in 2022.

Switzerland was denied of a back-to-back success in the race when edged out in a photo by Japanese raider Sibelius last year.

“Tuz got so much natural speed; his weapon is his speed,” Seemar said of the seven year old Oxbow gelding.

“He’s always been a fast horse and it’s like Switzerland. He ran poorly in Saudi and then won the Shaheen. Sprinters mature and they know what to do. I had some confidence.”

Godolphin wasn’t going to go without a prize on the night as Rebel’s Romance delivered in the Dubai Sheema Classic with a clear-cut victory to maintain an excellent run for the royal blues in the race.

His success was the fourth for Godolphin since 2017, with Jack Hobbs, Hawkbill and Old Persian striking in consecutive years.

It was a record fifth success in the race for jockey William Buick, who was able to keep the 2021 UAE Derby and multiple Group 1 winner behind the early pacesetter Point Lonsdale before going past him on the home stretch to win by two lengths from Japanese pair Shahryar and Liberty Island.

“He showed in Qatar what a versatile horse he is,” Buick said of the six year old Dubawi gelding.

“His best form has usually been when he’s held up but in Qatar, I tried something new. I was keen today to adopt a similar tactic and I got a lovely slipstream from the leader.

“He’s a very good horse on his day and he showed that today. I’m absolutely delighted; he’s a great horse and I’m so glad he’s back to his best.”

Reflecting on the importance of Godolphin registering a win on the biggest night of the year in Dubai racing, Buick added: “You know His Highness [Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai] wants to see the best horses come to Dubai and the best horses are here. These races are incredibly hard to win so of course I’m incredibly happy.”

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby had been out of luck with three earlier runners, with Star Of Mystery finishing second behind California Spangle in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint while Measure Time coming home fourth in the Group 1 Dubai Turf which was won by Facteur Cheval.

“It was our last roll of the dice for today,” Appleby said of Rebel’s Romance. “We went into the race as a long shot which shows the depth of the race. We had a bumpy road last year, went to Kempton to bring up his confidence and then Qatar to bring him back to where we wanted him to be.

“Full credit to the team, especially the logistical team as he went back to the UK from Qatar and then out here. The plan was to go forward and William knows the track and horse very well. Most importantly, delighted for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the entire team at Godolphin.”

In the rest of the card, the day began with Tilal Al Khalediah’s victory in the Dubai Kahayla Classic for the Purebred Arabians. It was the second success in the race for Saudi Arabian trainer Nasser Mutlaq Alkahtani after Tallaab Al Khalediah won the prize in 2018.

Two Rivers Over, under Edwin Maldonado, bagged the Godolphin Mile for the US and Aidan O’Brien-trained Tower Of London with Ryan Moore sealing the Dubai Gold Cup for Ireland.

Ryusei Sakai completed a Derby double with Forever Young, adding the UAE prize to last month’s Saudi Derby win in the bag. Maxim Guyon on Facteur Cheval edged out Japanese raider Namur by a short head in the Group 1 Dubai Turf.

Updated: March 31, 2024, 5:20 AM