Feature Story

Seemar faith vindicated as Laurel River routs Dubai World Cup rivals

Seemar faith vindicated as Laurel River routs Dubai World Cup rivals Mar 30, 2024

By Sam Turner - 

“There are 12 million reasons to go for the Dubai World Cup.”
And yes, trainer Bhupat Seemar, every one of them was validated as Laurel River blitzed his rivals to capture a breathtaking Dubai World Cup by eight-and-half lengths.
Ridden by multiple champion jockey Tadgh O’Shea and racing in the world famous Juddmonte Farm silks, the six-year-old was bounced out from his wide draw and never saw another horse as he dominated his 11 rivals from the outset.
Any queries about the winner getting home were allayed in a matter of strides as O’Shea allowed his mount to open up on the bend into the straight and, one by one, those chasing in vain fell by the wayside.
The Saudi Cup winner Senor Buscador and last year’s winner Ushba Tesoro did their best to try and erode the deficit, but try as they might, Laurel River was clear beyond recall, allowing his jubilant Irish rider to acknowledge the cheers of the crowd.
Ushba Tesoro was carried out on his shield in second, while his Riyadh conqueror Senor Buscador took third.
The strongly fancied local hope Kabirkhan came off the bridle before the straight and never figured, while Derma Sotogake was fractious in the gates under replacement rider Oisin Murphy and failed to run his race.

Trainer Bhupat Seemar said: “I’m still coming to terms with what’s happened. I think it’ll probably sink in 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). 

“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 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.”

The horses who finished in Laurel River’s wake Saturday amplified just how impressive his victory was. Last year’s winner Ushba Tesoro raced far back for the opening 1600m, but wound up with his customary late run to finish second, just edging out recent Saudi Cup winner Senor Buscador for the US$2.4 million second prize. Senor Buscador added to his US$10 million payday in Riyadh with a nifty check for US$1.2 million.

A delighted O’Shea said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to have had Dubai World Cup night winners but you don’t get many opportunities and I’m going to be forever grateful to Juddmonte for keeping me on the horse, they could use anyone and they’re a worldwide operation that’s really successful. 

“When he had his first run for the stable we thought he’d disappointed, but we never lost faith. He was explosive last time and I said the other morning to Bhupat, I pulled him aside and said I’d never ridden a horse with his ability ever. And he’d just done an easy work on his own.

"With the dirt you can’t be half-hearted, you have to go forward. If he didn’t stay, he didn’t stay. We were aware of that. The main thing that won the race, it’s easy to say when you win, but I was able to keep filling him up and filling him up.”