For the third time in four years, Zabeel Racing Stables of Dubai will be represented with a contender in the world’s most valuable race — but for the first time it will be with one considered the proverbial barn favorite.
Known for his very kind disposition and eager-to-please attitude, Al-Rashid Stables’ Bhupat Seemar-trained Remorse (IRE) heads into his second major international showcase with an outsider’s chance, but consistent form worthy of respect.
Sixth in last March’s Dubai World Cup, beaten a mere four and three-quarter lengths, the son of Dubawi and Royal Ascot winner Jealous Again enters The Saudi Cup off the back of a pair of solid efforts.
“He’s such an honest horse,” said Seemar, who trained Secret Ambition to finish seventh in last year’s Saudi Cup in what was his first season as head trainer. “We haven’t done much with him since his run a few weeks ago, but he’s in great form and always tries really hard. We know we are going up against some of the world’s best horses again, but you can’t win it if you’re not in it and when you have a horse as genuine as he is, you feel good about your chances.
“He’s a horse who reminds me how privileged we are,” Seemar added. “In my first year of training, we won a Dubai Golden Shaheen and had runners in the Saudi Cup, Dubai World Cup and Kentucky Derby — not a lot of trainers can say that — and I’m just very lucky to have such great owners and talented horses.”
In addition to Secret Ambition, Seemar was also with Zabeel for the inaugural Saudi Cup with North America, when assistant to uncle Satish Seemar, as well as sixth and fourth-place finishes with Switzerland in the last two editions of the Riyadh Dirt Sprint presented by Sports Boulevard.
“We’ve learned a little more every year going there,” Seemar said. “Last year, we had three horses with mucus after the races, which explains why they didn’t run better, so this time we made sure we sent warm blankets for them on the flight and for the cooler mornings.
“We focus on keeping them in the same routines and the same temperatures and environment as they’re accustomed to at Zabeel.
“We obviously care for the horse (Remorse). Everyone likes being around him and he has been so good to us — always giving his all — and obviously Caroline (Bhupat’s wife and Remorse’s exercise rider) really loves him.”
The Seemars appear to have a similar chance with Freedom Fighter (USA) — who also carries the bright orange silks of Al-Rashid Stables — in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint presented by Sports Boulevard.
A lightly raced five-year-old who was an unlucky third in the Al-Shindagha Sprint three weeks ago, he has finished in the top four in five Graded/Group races. Before making his past four starts with Seemar, he commenced his career in the US with as many runs for Bob Baffert.
“Freedom Fighter is much better this year than last,” Bhupat Seemar said. “He was a lightly raced four-year-old in 2022 going against tough, seasoned horses in sprints.
“Now he’s maturing into a nice sprinter and we have him sound after some quarter-crack issues. He’s also been a bit unlucky with draws, breaking from the outside post last time out.
“This time, he’s drawn nine of nine, which isn’t great, but not nearly as bad. I really think he’s a horse to watch. He’s pretty fast out of the gate and he’ll be right there.”