YOU MIGHT have heard people talk about a focus on quality and not quantity, but it appears an absolutely tangible commodity at RRR Racing who have made quite a splash in UAE racing circles since hitting the scene a few years ago. They burst on the scene four seasons ago when Second Summer carrying the orange and black colours of owner Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Maktoum powered home to win the Group 2 Godolphin Mile by a neck from Ross.
The annual Dubai World Cup (DWC) card is one of the most prestigious meetings the world over and that win in 2017 helped carry their stock into the next stratosphere. They did it with quality then and despite racing under the RRR Racing banner now they’ve managed to carry that mantra forward with owner Sheikh Rashid’s focus on class percolating down the line. It perhaps explains why they have merely 16 horses in training in the UAE and a further five that fly the RRR Racing flag overseas.
“I think we have a nice number of horses,” explains Muammer Abdullah Amein, the racing manager for Sheikh Rashid. Muammer has come to the yard of Salem bin Ghadayer, who trains a few for RRR Racing including For The Top, a former Grade One winner in Argentina, who almost did the yard proud on Saudi Cup day in Riyadh when being headed virtually on the line in the Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Cup, a conditions event over 2100m.
The 5yo son of Equal Stripes was twice beaten by Godolphin superstar Benbatl last season on his previous two assignments when finishing second in the Group 2 Singspiel Stakes and later sixth in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2. For The Top had just put in a solid effort around the training track with his trainer and connections pleased with what they had just witnessed. As previously mentioned, For The Top is one of 16 horses in training for RRR Racing in the UAE, the number distributed across the yards of Bin Ghadayer, Doug Watson and UAE Champion Trainer Satish Seemar.
“Our focus has always been on quality and not quantity,” Muammer continued as he started to shed light on the roster. “We have some young horses that have been imported from America. There are three 3yos and we are expecting a good run from them. Two are with Satish and one is here with Salem. “There’s a very nice 2yo, who has won twice. He is a Dubai World Cup Carnival (DWCC) rated horse as well and joined Satish’s yard.
His name is Fight Zone and we are hoping he can go for the Guineas here and hopefully if he does well we hope he can then go to Saudi Arabia for the Derby there and return for the UAE Derby as well. So he will be targeted for three runs.” Another named Premier Star arrived from the US on 23 December and is scheduled to join Watson’s Red Stables operation. “He is one of the best 3yo sprinters in America and is likely to be aimed at Super Saturday and perhaps races on DWC day. He has placed in a Grade Two race at Saratoga, so he has two main targets.”
RRR Racing have enjoyed quite a few successes since Second Summer’s massive Godolphin Mile victory, with Sheikh Rashid accumulating a total of 21 winners, 22 runnerup placings and a further 16 thirds from the 180 runners that have been dispatched in his colours. Sheikh Rashid’s first big winner was trained by Mike de Kock who saddled Silver Mist to victory in the 2009 Group 3 Al Rashidiya at Nad Al Sheba. There have been plenty of big wins since then and while Second Summer’s victory on the DWC card stands out as the team’s biggest so far, Rayya clinched the UAE Oaks for trainer Watson the following year. More recently, Kimbear and Gladiator King have been the flagbearers for his colours.
The pair made last season quite brilliant for Sheikh Rashid with the Seemar-schooled Gladiator King winning both his UAE starts in the form of a pair of Group Three runs in the Al Shindagha Sprint and Dubawi Stakes. He was sent to Riyadh for the Saudia Sprint on 29 February, where he placed third in a field of 13. Kimbear, meanwhile, won the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 for Watson, which was a tidy addition to the Group 3 Burj Nahaar that he put on his CV in 2018. “Every year since we’ve started we’ve been quite lucky with quite a few successes,”
Muammer added. “In our first year we won the Godolphin Mile with Second Summer and then the second year we won the Burj Nahaar with Kimbear. Last season we won the Al Shindagha and Dubawi Stakes with Gladiator King. Two runs, two wins from him and we had a nice campaign heading towards the DWC but unfortunately things were cancelled. “Our goal has always been to do well at the DWCC and the other big Group races here. It was a bit disappointing that the DWC was cancelled, but we were pleased overall with our performances here and in Saudi Arabia where we were third with Gladiator King and For The Top.”
If Muammer is to be believed things could be even better this term with the operation having rung changes in terms of new purchases and a reshuffling of horses. “For The Top finished second behind Benbatl and he was only just beaten in Saudi Arabia. The horse did very well and he is more mature and stronger now than he was then and the same goes for Kimbear and Gladiator King. “We also have Quip who didn’t do well last year, but has been doing better this year. Quip is with Satish Seemar now, and we are expecting good things from Switzerland too this year.
He too didn’t have much to show last year but seems better this year. He would register good times in training, but wasn’t putting that effort in the races so we changed the trainer and now since being gelded he’s with Satish. “Sheikh Rashid likes to give his horses a second chance with another trainer because every trainer has his own techniques and some horses don’t adapt so you have to give them a chance and see if they can do better at another yard. “All our trainers have been doing well for us. Salem is the best Emirati trainer and has proven himself locally and internationally while the same goes for Doug Watson and Satish Seemar who have been Champion Trainers here on many occasions.
They are very experienced and all of them are at the same level so we are very hopeful and very positive and are looking forward to a good season.” RRR Racing have started to see some success internationally as well from their modest group, whose total Muammer put down as being approximately ‘four to five’. One of those, Ratib is being trained by Joseph O’Brien in Ireland and shed his maiden status at the second time of asking when winning a mile event at Dundalk on 20 November. The rest are being schooled by legendary American conditioner Bob Baffert, a winner of multiple DWC titles.
“Ratib is a very nice 2yo with Joseph O’Brien. He’s by Frankel. We bought him as a yearling and was a little backward and so he ran at the end of the season and he’s supposedly been entered already in the Derby,” said Muammer. “We can’t say much as of now, but he’s showing signs and has potential and you never know. First time he finished fourth, second time he won. He is like a Group horse. “We have a nice filly with Baffert named Reem, she is by Danza.
She ran twice and was third and then second (in a maiden behind Gamine, who has now won three Group Ones, the latest being the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on 7 November). “Totally we have four to five horses overseas. RRR Racing has good plans, but our main focus remains on Saudi Arabia and Dubai because Sheikh Rashid is here and he can attend the racing. At the end of the day, we are very selective and concentrate on quality. We are very positive.”