By Sam Turner -
For two decades David Simcock has travelled the world and, in particular, the Middle East, targeting some of the region’s premier events. He tells Adiyat Racing Plus why Dubai is so special to him.
David Simcock has become a trainer for all seasons – although he would readily admit a winter in Dubai is his favourite. Two decades with a training license has seen the likeable Newmarket handler consistently punch above his weight on the world stage with the Middle East a particularly fruitful jurisdiction.
Old favorites like the ultra-consistent Sheikhzayedroad, three times placed in the Dubai Gold Cup, and Zabeel Mile winner Trade Storm, also successful in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, have showcased Simcock’s abilities around the globe and he is back in Dubai again, hunting for Carnival success once more.
By his own admittance, this year’s firepower may not be as potent as those that have trod the lush Meydan turf in previous winters, but that hasn’t diminished his love for the region or racing in the Emirates. “We’ve been coming to Dubai for a long SIMCOCK PROVING HE IS A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS For two decades David Simcock has travelled the world and, in particular, the Middle East, targeting some of the region’s premier events. He tells Adiyat Racing Plus why Dubai is so special to him. time now, nigh on 20 years and I enjoy coming every year,” he says.
I LOVE THE WEATHER
“Every year we try and bring out some horses, albeit we probably haven’t been as strong in the last couple of years as we have in the past. “I love the place and the environment and, of course, I love the weather. “I’ve had plenty of career highlights over here in the last 20 years, we’ve been very fortunate.
“I would say Trade Storm has to be right up there as he won the Zabeel Mile and won twice out here before finishing fourth on World Cup night which was brilliant for his owners. “Sheikhzayedroad won twice at Meydan as well as being placed in three Gold Cups, so he was a real stalwart and a star for us. “The likes of Woven and Universal Order were also great flagbearers for our yard and I think we’ve had pretty much 10 winners out here and lots of placed horses, so Dubai has been very good to me.”
Meydan followers will fondly recall Sheikhzayedroad who ran a staggering 12 times over a variety of distances at Dubai’s iconic venue in the colours of Mohammed Jaber. A veteran of the Carnival – he appeared for five successive years – the son of Dubawi was retired one short of a half century of racecourse appearances having plied his trade around the world to amass nearly AED6million in prize money. Simcock’s current Dubai team are yet to reach that level, but there could be a race or two within their grasp in the ensuing weeks.
THREE TO TANGO WITH
Simcock continued: “We have three horses for the Carnival this year; a little horse called Restrict who is owned by Saeed Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi. “He’s an American bred so we thought we’d try him on dirt first time, which came as a little shock to him as I think it does for most! “He will come forward for that and we are desperate to get him out on dirt again with hopefully the benefit of a slightly better draw. “A mile would also suit him better and, I think when he has those two factors, he can improve masses. “We have the option to put him back in turf as he acts very well on it but getting that first run under his belt was the most important thing. “Tides Of War is a horse we have for owner Dr. Jim (Hay) who loves his racing here in Dubai. “He ran very well on his first start over here on January 12th as he received a slightly odd ride. “We were drawn wide again that day – we were stall 15 of 16 – so dropped in early on before making up a lot of ground quickly quite wide on the track.
DENIED BY A LATE SETBACK
“He looked like he was going to be very competitive in the last 400m but then got tired, which he was entitled to do as it was his first run for a long time. “He has two options in February and I would like to think he could be competitive in one of those moving forward. The trio is made up of Tiger Crusade, although his participation was denied by a frustrating 11th hour setback before his Middle East debut. “We felt Tiger Crusade was going to be our best chance of the Carnival, but unfortunately, he got a foot abscess just before the race on Friday, January 12th.
We thought we had got that right, but he flipped onto the other leg and went lame, so we had to scratch him late,” Simcock added. “We missed a good opportunity and one this coming Friday which is annoying. There aren’t too many more good races for him, but he’s likely to run mid-February and he’s very sound again (cantered last Wednesday morning) so we are much happier with him. “1400m is probably his best trip in England we always think a ‘long’ 1200m or an easier 1400m suits him best so the latter over here would be ideal.
“Nice, good ground is essential and it’s invariably what we are given here where they do a wonderful job with the track.” While Simcock oversees his UAE runners, the staff back in Newmarket keep the show on the road with a steady stream of UK all-weather runners to ensure the stables’ winner’s tally keeps ticking over, with Optik recently contributing two successes inside a week.
“We have a little string of 10 running on the all-weather in England and they are all very capable of winning their races this winter,” says Simcock.
“We are chasing a 40k bonus with Optik so he runs again in a week’s time and each race has actually become weaker despite him going up in the weights which is a strange thing.
“If he can win three on the bounce then there is a bonus, and we’ll look to continue placing him to advantage up until the end of March – he’s a fun horse which is doing very well for us.” Before you know it, the mornings in the UK will no longer be dark and cold and the sun will begin to present some warmth as spring arrives.
With this in mind, does the Group 1 winning handler have any candidates for Britain’s top-level prizes this summer? “It’s an exciting time of year with juveniles turning three and there’s a couple of horses at home with potential, but Lunar Eclipse would probably be the one I’d like to think will do well this summer. “She’s a well-bred grey daughter of Night Of Thunder owned by Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum who won her Newmarket maiden over 1400m back in November.
“She will certainly get a mile and we’ll probably put her in a trial in the spring - perhaps something like the Fred Darling at Newbury if it got wet – so we can find out where we are with her. She is a lovely big filly, and we probably won’t see the best of her until she tackles a mile, maybe even further.”