The Cambridge dictionary describes the expression ‘horses for courses’ like this: It is ‘used for saying that it is important
to choose suitable people for particular activities because everyone has different skills.’
I dare say there’s nothing wrong with that, but essentially ‘horses for courses’ is a racing term that means certain horses run better on certain tracks.
It is well known that some horses perform better on a particular course than others, and it is generally considered to give that horse an edge over his rivals. This knowledge must certainly apply to Prince Bishop, the popular winner of Saturday’s Round III of the Al Maktoum Challenge, an acknowledged prep race of the Dubai World Cup (G1).
Prince Bishop undoubtedly runs his best races on the Tapeta track at Meydan, a surface on which he has amassed three wins at the highest level. Forget that he disappointed in two World Cups and could only beat one horse home in the gruelling Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) 12 months ago.
Here is a horse that is very much at home on the artificial surface and even at the age of seven, a time when most race horses are on the decline, he has shown himself to be as competitive as he was during his heydays.
While most horses his age are heading to stud, he’s still sticking around doing what he does best. Which is a wonderful statement for the older racehorse, who is never sure when it’s all going to come to an end. Of course, in his case, there will be no such concern as he is a gelding and life after racing will perhaps be quite meaningless.
But let’s not go there now. We are talking about an ageless performer who still has plenty to offer, according to both his trainer Saeed Bin Surour and jockey Kieren Fallon, who have developed quite an extraordinary relationship with the horse. The former British champion has ridden Prince Bishop on three occasions and all of them have resulted in victories.
When I spoke to Fallon at Meydan after the race, he seemed keyed up at the prospect of riding him in the Dubai World Cup and said he genuinely believed that should Prince Bishop reproduce his Super Saturday form on the big day then he would without doubt have serious claims of winning.
Now that would be poetic justice for a horse who has given Bin Surour so much to cherish through four seasons of racing at Meydan ever since his UAE debut in 2011 — when he finished behind Twice Over in Round III of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
In Hollywood, the expression ‘horses for courses’ is known as smart casting. And I’m sure Fallon and Bin Surour will be hoping for a happy ending for a horse that has been cast on racing’s biggest stage three weeks from now.