Author: Derek Thompson

THE NAME Seemar will always be associated with horse racing in the UAE and Bhupat Seemar recorded a fantastic five timer at Meydan nearly 30 years after his uncle Satish did the same at Nad Al Sheba! Bhupat only recently took over the trainer’s licence but the former assistant has learned well from ‘the master’ and to get five winners on an ultra competitive night at Meydan is a remarkable achievement.

What makes it even more amazing is that his uncle Satish did the same nearly 30 years ago in virtually the same place when the now Meydan Racecourse was called Nad Al Sheba. It was the first ‘proper’ race meeting in Dubai and Seemar, who had been brought over by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum from America where he had been working, pulled off the amazing feat of winning five of the six races!

He will never forget it because the trainer’s prize for each race was a car and he won five cars that day! The way he has built up the beautiful Zabeel Stables since then has been incredible and now nearly 30 years later his nephew has emulated that same feat.

Nicky Henderson is one of the most famous names in British racing and on Saturday the multiple Champion Jumps Trainer won the first Grade One race of the year in the UK when his Constitution Hill won the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown by a staggering 12 lengths! Henderson couldn’t be at Sandown because he was isolating after testing positive for Covid so he had to watch on TV as his horse made light work of the rest of the field to become a red hot favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

It was also a red letter day for winning jockey Nico de Boinville who was riding his 30th Grade One winner! Jebel Ali is the racetrack to be at in Dubai on Saturday when the popular racecourse that was built by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum celebrates 30 years of racing! I was lucky enough to be commentating and presenting at the early meetings there in the 1990s with Ahmed Al Shaikh and will never forget it.

The racegoers love Jebel Ali’s uphill finish and the massive crowds continue to flock to the track and cheer the horses as they fight out the finish. One strange reason I remember those meetings so long ago is that the gents’ toilet (which was situated just behind my presenters’ box) didn’t work very well and there was quite a strong smell coming from it!

I am glad to say it works well now! Jebel Ali has come a long way and it’s glamour and world recognition has grown and grown in these past 30 years. What I especially like about Jebel Ali is the friendly nature of the place. Whether you are working or just visiting everyone is so friendly and it makes visiting this beautiful track a real pleasure.

With the parade ring in front of the track, everyone can see horses before, during and after races. Everyone feels a part of the action from start to finish. Dhruba Selvaratnam was the trainer at Jebel Ali in those early days and he would always welcome visitors with coffee and food in his house before racing.

Shareef Al Halawani who has been at the racecourse since day one has organised plenty of entertainment for the Jebel Ali racegoers and these celebrations will go on for a month! Apart from the exciting racing, one thing I always enjoy at Jebel Ali is the picking of the lucky winner of the car after the last race. There are always thousands of entries and to promote the draw I always go round the parade ring with my microphone and a metre long car key shouting the words ‘VROOM VROOM’! There’s always plenty of horse power to enjoy at Jebel Ali!