Author: Duane Fonseca

HAD HE pursued a career in civil engineering, Mujeeb Rahman would have been busy poring over detailed blueprints and construction plans. It would have made him a sort of trailblazer in a family of horsemen, but instead of breaking new ground, he chose to take the beaten path. The one well travelled by his elders.

And it has worked out well for Rahman who seems to have found his calling in the UAE and is slowly but steadily starting to make an impact and slowly erase his journeyman’s tag. “I was born into racing and by the time I was six I was already at the racecourse,” Rahman told Al Adiyat.

“My family was into racing and I ended up studying to be a Civil Engineer. So I am a Civil Engineer by profession, but after completing engineering studies, I decided to go back to racing because I’ve also always wanted to train horses since everyone in the family was into training.”

In construction, a strong foundation is key. Fortunately, Rahman had just that when it came to racing. All that was left for him to do was apply himself wholly and build from the ground up. “I started to work as assistant to my uncle Mr Inayathulla in 1983.

He still trains horses in Bangalore. I come from that family. My grandfather Syed Haji was a trainer and we all started from Calcutta. He passed away in 1971. All my uncles were trainers, two of them have passed, but Mr Habibullah trained in Hyderabad and is now retired, while Inayathulla, with whom I worked as assistant for ten years, is still training.”

After serving as apprentice to his uncle for a decade, Rahman received his trainer’s licence from the Royal Calcutta Turf Club and started to train in his own name. He spent a further decade in Calcutta, winning the Group 1 Kalyani Black Label Million Stakes with Ansbach, who was sired by Alnasr Alwasheek, a horse owned by Jebel Ali Racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

After ten years in India’s eastern metro of Calcutta, Rahman decided on a move south and to his hometown of Bangalore. He started to train at Mysore, which is about 145km southwest of Bangalore, but by 2006 he was looking to move overseas. Dhruba Selvaratnam, the former resident trainer at Jebel Ali, orchestrated his move overseas, getting him a job at Al Fairuz Stables in neighbouring Oman.

“I gained the opportunity to move abroad through Dhruba Selvaratnam, who knew me and coaxed me to go to Oman and train for the stable there,” Rahman explained. “I did quite well for them. That was my first experience with Purebred Arabian horses because in India we train only Thoroughbreds.

I trained Purebred Arabians and Thoroughbreds and in those days we used to race against horses trained by Julian Smart for the Royal Stables.” Rahman enjoyed a fair bit of success in Oman, but he was not going to rest on his laurels and was eyeing a move to the more competitive UAE.

His put his petition out there and it was answered by Mohammed Al Shehhi, the Director General of the Office of Sheikh Ahmed, and his chief employer Marwan Abdul Rahman. “I’ve always wanted to break into the UAE, but without much connections and backing it was difficult,” Rahman said.

“I’m grateful to Mr Mohammed Shehhi who brought me here and gave me this opportunity. I started training in the UAE from 2018 for Mr Marwan Abdul Rahman of ARMS Group. “We have a stable called ARMS Racing and I am very grateful to Mr Marwan and his father who trusted in me and have waited for two years.

Now we are reaping the fruits of our labour.” In what has been his breakthrough season in the Emirates, Rahman has saddled three winners from 26 dispatches. He has a further two runners-up and three thirds, with a further three picking up minor money.

Rahman is a bit tickled when he thinks of Manhunter delivering him a first ever UAE success. “Manhunter’s success at Sharjah was special because he was the first horse we purchased,” Rahman said. “We started off with only two horses in 2018 and we started very late, but now we have about 6 or 7 horses in training.”

Manhunter has run a second and third as well in four runs this term, while Obeyaan delivered Rahman a second UAE success when winning a 1950m handicap at Jebel Ali. His third win arrived at Meydan on a domestic card last Thursday when Major Cinnamon finally came good in a 1200m maiden after numerous close calls previously.

The 4yo Tapiture gelding has been placed thrice further in five runs this season. “I’ve been out of India for quite some time now and to come to a new place altogether and get a foothold takes a bit of time so I had to adjust to training here and it’s a bit different compared to India and Oman, but now that I am here I want to make a name for myself with whatever horses I have.

We will try and buy some more horses and improve from here on,” Rahman added. “Mr Marwan Abdul Rahman is a young and enthusiastic owner and we hope to have a long relationship with this stable and do well for them.”