Racing: Seemar turning on the heat: A climatic advantage could help a Middle East-based trainer to flourish with a filly with a fine chance in tomorrow's Irish 1,000 Guineas

Click to follow
The Independent Online
BEFORE Satish Seemar had even set foot in Britain this spring, he was a regular visitor to the nightmares of Newmarket's more suggestible trainers.

A trainer from Dubai campaigning a single horse, the filly Dayflower, might seem an unlikely bogeyman for the Headquarters establishment, but it was her unusual preparation which set some imaginations racing. Dayflower, a promising if highly-strung juvenile for Henry Cecil last season, had wintered in the home country of her owner, Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum, in an attempt to accelerate her natural development. In theory, that might have given her a winning advantage in the 1,000 Guineas over British-based fillies whose enthusiasm was still in cold storage.

It was but a small leap for an overwrought imagination to see Arab-owned juveniles by the planeload flying to Dubai each November, to return four months later smelling of sun-oil and looking like four-year-olds. Newmarket, meanwhile, would be a ghost town.

In the event, Dayflower did not win the Classic, but less than three lengths separated her from Sayyedati, and another two furlongs would have seen her closer still. Better-fancied horses from some of Europe's leading yards were behind, but a mixture of insularity and, perhaps, relief, ensured that Seemar received little acclaim for a remarkable training performance with an unusually volatile animal.

There could be no such indifference were Dayflower to take the Irish 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh tomorrow, but while the filly's reputation for anxiousness may be enough to deter some punters, Seemar is quietly looking forward to the big race. He also sees a different side of Dayflower.

'She's a very aggressive filly when she gets on the track and when she knows she's going to race, but she's totally different at home,' he said yesterday. 'She's very nice to work round, you can actually sit between her four legs and she'll not move.'

On her racecourse debut at Doncaster last June, Dayflower reared in the stalls and refused to race. There were signs of temperament too before her success at York last week - which made Seemar the first trainer from the United Arab Emirates to saddle a British winner - but she left the stalls smoothly and won as she liked. The winter holiday has calmed her down.

'She was a little bit highly strung, wouldn't go in the gates and got all excited, and the sun has really helped her in her relaxation,' Seemar said. 'I worked with her at the gates and with patience she grew out of that. She just doesn't like to be forced into anything, and if you relax her a little bit she'll do anything for you.'

Turf regulations mean that tomorrow's race is likely to be the last in which Seemar will be officially accredited as Dayflower's trainer, but he is pleased to be in the position at all, as two years ago he was managing a yearling farm in Kentucky and thought about training 'in the back of my head, but never really took it seriously.' Sheikh Mohammed's offer of a training post in Dubai's fledgling racing industry was unexpected.

'I was a little surprised and so was everyone else in the business because I had no training background, so I guess I might have been part of the experiment too. At that time if you'd asked a big trainer to go to Dubai he might have laughed, but for a person like me who had no training background, asked by the most powerful racing man in the world, it was a big compliment to my horsemanship and so I jumped at it.'

The fears of an equine mass exodus to Dubai each year are unfounded, however. 'I hope there's a few more, not in large numbers but maybe two or three more added with me,' Seemar says, and the biggest benefit may be to ease the boredom of Dubai's trainers during their calendar's four-month close season.

'Maybe Paddy Rudkin (former head lad to Henry Cecil) can bring one too, and other trainers can bring some. It'll be nice, so we have something to do in the summertime.'

(Photograph omitted)