These are pivotal times for Saeed Bin Suroor, who is rebuilding his stable after two relatively quiet years. A third seems inevitable, since he is low on numbers after last year’s juvenile intake that mustered just 35 runs between them.
That leaves Bin Suroor desperately short of three-year-old talent. He has deemed only eight of that age bracket worthy of inclusion here, and five of those are unraced.
It is just as well that quite a few among his team of older horses are lightly raced and with scope to progress.
“Last year we only managed to run 20 of my 80 two-year-olds,” Bin Suroor says. The stable posted just six wins in this category, which limited the haul to 65 winners overall.
“Of the unraced ones, I’m hoping one or two will come through now they have been given time. Some have had a whole year off but the majority of them don’t look up to much.”
It’s a far cry from the halcyon days when Bin Suroor was champion trainer in Britain four times. Yet the Godolphin trainer enjoyed an excellent Dubai Winter Carnival.
That success culminated in a Group 1 double on Emirates Dubai World Cup night, courtesy of Benbatl (Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World) and Thunder Snow, who landed the main event under Christophe Soumillon.
Much rests on the shoulders of those two stalwarts to keep Bin Suroor’s name up in lights this year.
Thunder Snow’s victory marked the eighth time Bin Suroor has won the Dubai World Cup – he has won three of the last six editions. The four-year-old also brought up his trainer’s 184th Group 1 triumph worldwide.
Sights are inevitably set on reaching the double century before too long.
“Everyone knows our three-year-olds are weaker than usual this year,” Bin Suroor adds. “This is a time for rebuilding and all of us in the yard are positive about the future.
“The staff are happy with the two-year-olds we’ve received. John Gosden, Anthony Stroud and David Loder did a great job for Godolphin at the yearling sales and I’m very happy with what I’ve been sent. There are some sound, early types and some quality for later in the season.”
Given the lack of depth among his three-year-olds, a close eye should be kept on the stable’s juveniles.
Three or four have been earmarked for Royal Ascot and are scheduled to debut in the next few weeks. Among the homebreds, Bin Suroor is pleased to note he has been sent a healthy number of juveniles out of racemares he trained himself.
“I think the bad years are gone,” he says. “I have the best team of staff here, including Kieren Fallon, who rides for us. We’re optimistic about the future and we look forward to the challenge.”
Flat Season Stable Tours: Saeed Bin Suroor's list of Runners
Info: Four-year-old filly Distorted Humor (sire) - Achieving (dam)
She’s a lightly raced filly, a Listed winner and also Group-placed. I think she should be capable of winning Group races between 7f and a mile this season. We’re looking to start her off at Royal Ascot, and her summer target is the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting.
Info: 4c Dubawi - Nahrain
He's a very talented horse who's not stopped improving. I thought he was very unlucky not to win two Group 1 races in Dubai this winter, and he showed a fantastic turn of foot when winning the Dubai Turf. He's won a Group 3 at Royal Ascot and we're looking to campaign him in all the top races between a mile and 1m2f. He could start off in the Queen Anne Stakes or the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Info: 4c Kodiac - Al Andalyya
A very tough colt who's still progressing. He probably produced a career-best when he won in Dubai, where he carried top weight in a big handicap at the carnival. He shows a good level of consistency and I’m expecting him to continue that way in the UK.
Info: 4c Dubawi - Avongrove
He’s tough and consistent and did really well when running on dirt in Dubai this winter. He’s very versatile – he's won on dirt, turf and the all-weather. He's progressive and hasn’t had many starts, and we hope he might make up into a Cambridgeshire horse.
Info: 4g Frankel - Sand Vixen
We've run him in top company over 7f and a mile, including in last year’s 2,000 Guineas, when he finished just over three lengths behind Churchill in fifth place. He's talented but became very frustrating; he started well in Dubai this winter but fell away, so we had him gelded in March. His dam, Sand Vixen, was a very fast filly, so we’re looking to start him back over 6f. We think the drop in trip will suit him and we’re hoping to take him to Royal Ascot after that.
Info: 4c Dubawi - Opera Cloak
This is a lovely, big, progressive type who remains lightly raced and won all three of his starts last season. He's best over a trip and, if he continues to progress this year, we hope he'll make up into a Cup horse for the second half of the season. We’re looking to start him off in early July.
Info: 4c Nathaniel - Tanzania
He’s a big, imposing type with lots of ability. He's progressed quickly and has the makings of a talented stayer. He’s having a break now after running with credit five times in Dubai but we hope to have him back for Royal Ascot. Longer term we're looking at the Lonsdale Stakes at York, and possibly the Irish St Leger.
Info: 4g Lonhro - Tamarillo
He’s a tall, rangy type who doesn’t tend to take his races too well, so we have to be careful with him. He can be a bit of a worrier, too, but he has lots of ability. He progressed to a mark of 105 in Dubai, where he won a good handicap in January. We think there's still improvement in him.
Info: 4c Street Cry - Vine Street
This horse needs cover to help him relax, which is when he runs his best races. Without it, he can throw in a poor performance now and again. He’s good on his day and is well up to contesting Listed and Group races. He’s having a break at the moment and will be out later in the summer. He has the Darley Stakes at Newmarket as a target.
Info: 5c Dubawi - Rosinka
He’s had his share of problems and has been difficult to train because of it, but he has ability and is happy on easier ground. He's won a Group race over 1m4f but we’d like to try him over further. He still looks to be on the upgrade.
Info: 5g Teofilo - Native Blue
Things didn’t really work out for him this winter in Dubai, where the style of racing and the dirt track probably didn’t suit him on his final start. He’s a Listed winner who goes well on the all-weather, and he hasn’t got many miles on the clock. We’ll start him down the handicap route and see how he gets on.
Info: 4c Helmet - Eastern Joy
He's turned into a real flagbearer for Godolphin after winning Group 1 races at two, three and four, on turf and dirt. I thought he was impressive when he won the Dubai World Cup, which was the highlight of his career so far. He came out of that race very well, as he usually does – he’s a tough and versatile horse. He's having a well-earned break at the moment and all options in Europe and the US are open to him in the second half of the season. We're planning to prepare him for the Breeders’ Cup meeting in November, when we will look at the Classic for him.
Info: c Kodiac - Duchess Of Foxland
He wasn’t ready to run last year but he’s a good-moving son of a sire who is doing well. He was very weak as a two-year-old but I’m pleased to see he's strengthened up nicely. He's going well in his work and is ready to make his debut soon.
Info: c Kitten’s Joy - Tanaami
He's one of the few two-year-old runners we had last year who won races. That was a promising start from him, and he's a nice, scopey individual who we hope can build on that. We’re looking to step him up to 1m4f at York this month and decide on a campaign for him after that.
Info: c Iffraaj - Roystonea
He ran well on his debut last month over 7f, when he took time to realise what he needed to do. He can only improve for that. He’s a very straightforward, honest type, and the plan is to step him up in trip next time. He should be competitive throughout the season.
Info: c Dubawi - Inner Secret
He didn’t see the track last season, like so many of my two-year-olds. He didn’t do much at all last year but has grown into a nice, imposing colt now. He's going well at the moment and I hope to get him started later this month.
Info: c Street Cry - Floristry
Another unraced colt with plenty of size about him. He hasn’t done much but he does look nice in his slower paces. I’m hoping to get him out later this month, when we’ll get to know more about him
Info: c Dubawi - Silk Blossom
He hasn’t run yet but he’s a good-looking colt who has a lovely, easy way of going about his work. He’s giving us all the right signals at the moment, and the plan is to start him off over 7f soon. We’re hoping he'll mature into a nice type by the end of the year.
Info: f Shamardal - Eastern Joy
She ran only once as a two-year-old but quickly made up for it in Dubai, where she won the UAE 1,000 Guineas trial and the UAE 1,000 Guineas before finishing third in the UAE Oaks when she stepped up to 1m1½f. She suffered a slight setback after that last run but she’ll be back racing in the second half of the year, when we’re expecting her to be very competitive in Group races. She'll go back to Dubai towards the end of the year.
Info: 3c Iffraaj - Havin A Good Time
We couldn’t run him last year because he was unsound, but he’s a big, strong, very likeable type who's done well physically from two to three. He's a fantastic mover and looks to have a bit of class. He'll probably be ready to start at the July meeting at Newmarket. I consider him to be one of our nicest three-year-olds.