After all these years, I think I can safely say that I know Saeed Bin Surour better than most writers who often are far too quick to praise, or pan, his every move.
What impresses most about him is a fact that took me a long time to comprehend — he is not your inveterate dreamer. Even though he comes from a city of dreams, the Saeed I know is every inch a realist. Ever since I began my association with him during the mid nineties, I have come to understand more and more, how logical a person he is.
I say this, because every time I have asked him about his dream of winning the Epsom Derby, he always cuts me short, and corrects me, saying something that sounds like ‘dreams are for dreamers’.
“Of course I dream, everybody does, but in my business of training race horses I have to be more realistic about my dreams. You make plans instead,” he once said.
I was tempted to ask him how can one be in touch with reality even during a dream, but I chose not to for fear of sounding silly. We writers are not supposed to be silly and I am willing to discuss this in even more depth, but perhaps on another time, and another place.
Right. Bin Surour and his dreams, or rather his reality vision. And the Derby.
During last week’s Craven meeting at Newmarket, an event that was created to open the door to the Classics, all those big, history drenched races that every jockey, trainer and owner wants to win, I was moved to call Saeed after watching True Story run out a hugely impressive winner of the Feilden Stakes.
Run over a draining nine furlongs up the infamous Rowley Mile course, the Feilden is the first stepping stone towards Epsom and True Story made giant strides to enter the mainstream Derby consciousness. Bookmakers were hurriedly doing the math before slashing the Godolphin colt’s odds to 12-1 (from 33-1) for the British showpiece that is widely regarded as one of the finest races in the world.
It’s been a long time since Saeed, or Godolphin for that matter, have won the Derby, the last time being when Lammtarra stormed to victory in 1995. In fact, Lammtarra, who would go on to win the King George and the Arc in that outstanding year, raced in the green colours of Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.
No jockey wearing the famous royal blue silks of Godolphin has achieved that feat, and Saeed will be hoping that Silvestre de Sousa can set the records straight, should True Story line up among an elite field on June 7 at the historic Epsom downs.
Saeed certainly believes True Story can be a Derby horse, given his breeding and style of running. Clearly his is an exciting prospect and a horse open to more improvement. It is likely that we will see him next in the Dante Stakes at York (May 15), and which is where we will learn a lot more about his Derby potential.
Saeed will be looking forward to that day as well, before he plans his realistic approach to race that he is aching to win for only the second time in almost two decades.