Dubai: Regardless of the fact that he won a record sixth $10 million (Dh36.7 million) Dubai World Cup on Saturday night, trainer Saeed Bin Surour chose to eschew the pomp and flashy celebrations that accompany such renowned triumphs by hosting a simple, late-night dinner at his family home.
A few hours later, and after a short nap, he was back at Godolphin’s stables in Al Quoz by 4am to resume his daily routine of tending to the 100-odd horses in his care.
“I could think of no better way than to celebrate than with my family, and in particular with my mother Mariam,” he told Gulf News on Sunday. “We had a simple dinner, nothing out of the ordinary. But it felt so good.”
How would he describe the scenes at home? Bin Surour replied: “It was unbelievable. My mother was so happy and proud, and so were all my family. My mother has been my biggest supporter and I could see how much this success meant to her as well. I’ve won many races around the world, but to achieve a victory of such importance in Dubai surpasses all of them.”
He added: “I gifted my mother the gold whip that I received, and I could see tears of joy in her eyes. It was such a special moment for me as my mother holds a very special place in my heart. I owe all the success I have achieved to her. Giving her the whip was my way of saying ‘thank you’ and I’m sure that every time she looks at it, it will bring a smile to her face.”
So how special was Saturday night’s victory, considering that African Story was up against some of the best horses from Europe and the Far East?
“This was perhaps the most significant of the six wins that I have had in the race, because it was my first at Meydan and more importantly, it helped silence the critics.
“I had been under pressure to prove myself again, having not saddled a winner in the big race since Electrocutionist in 2006. But the pressure only helped fuel my hunger, and desire, to win the race.
“As far as we were concerned, it was all in a day’s work. We have already begun preparations for international season, which is only just starting,” he added.
Bin Surour also divulged that he always felt that African Story would win a big race like the World Cup.
“When I first got him four years ago, I had a good feeling about this horse and he proved me right when he won first time up in the 2012 Carnival,” said the Emirati handler, whose previous successes in the Dubai World Cup came with Almutawakel (1999), Dubai Millennium (2000), Street Cry (2002), Moon Ballad (2003) and Electrocutionist (2006).
“The same year he won the Burj Nahaar, but it was only after he won the Godolphin Mile that I knew he was special. I told everybody that he would one day win a big race, but no one took me seriously, as they thought African Story was at best a miler.
“But with age, horses want more distance, and while I admit that the mile was his best trip, he has matured into a serious mile-and-a-quarter, and perhaps mile-and-a-half, horse,” Bin Surour added.
“Obviously I’m excited about what he can achieve in Europe, but I don’t want to push him. He has earned a bit of a break and will we bring him out for the second half of the season, possibly at York in August.
“But for the moment, let him have a small holiday. He has earned it.
“No holiday for me, though, as we leave for the UK in a few days’ time!”