Bin Suroor still gets real buzz from Royal Ascot success

Few trainers have taken the racing scene by storm as quickly as Saeed bin Suroor once did and it is hard to comprehend his first Royal Ascot victory came almost three decades ago.

So Factual’s triumph in the 1995 Cork And Orrery Stakes (now Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee) gave a hint to what was to follow and 12 months later Bin Suroor saddled a treble – with two of those at Group One level.

Charnwood Forest’s win in the Queen Anne was the first of a record seven wins in that contest and Classic Cliche opened his account in the Gold Cup, with four more triumphs subsequently following there.

While the days of Bin Suroor challenging for those prizes seem a long time ago, Colour Vision providing him with his most recent Gold Cup in 2012, the victories of Real World in the 2021 Royal Hunt Cup and Dubai Future in the 2022 Wolferton Stakes prove that given the ammunition, he can still produce the goods.

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Frankie Dettori ride 24 Royal Ascot winners for Saeed bin Suroor
Frankie Dettori has ridden 24 Royal Ascot winners for Saeed bin Suroor (David Davies/PA)

Ask him to pick out a favourite of his 38 Royal Ascot winners, which places him fourth best among current trainers, and he struggles, though.

“There are so many to choose from and all of them are good for different reasons,” said Bin Suroor.

“I think I’ve been champion trainer there four times and we had six winners there one year (2004).

“All the Royal Ascot winners were very important. If you win one race there, you have done very good. When you win there regularly, you don’t realise how lucky you are.

“The thing to remember about Ascot is it is the best quality horse racing in the world, it is the biggest meeting. People come from all over the world for it to see the best horses.”

Dubai Millennium oozed class when winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes in 2000
Dubai Millennium oozed class when winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in 2000 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

A quick glance down the list of jockeys to have ridden the Bin Suroor Royal Ascot winners reads like a who’s who of the best pilots of the era.

Obviously, Bin Suroor and Frankie Dettori had a long-standing successful alliance but Mick Kinane, Kerrin McEvoy and American legends Gary Stevens and Jerry Bailey were used too, the latter on Dubai Millennium, arguably Bin Suroor’s best horse.

“Dubai Millennium sticks out. He was a Dubai World Cup winner but to see him win the Prince of Wales’s like that was good, he was a class horse and produced the best stallion in the world in Dubawi,” said Bin Suroor.

“Frankie was injured after his (plane) crash, so we got Jerry Bailey. Why not? He was one of the best jockeys in the world for a long time.

“It’s nice to look back at days like that sometimes, you realise you have done something special.”

Kayf Tara beat Double Trigger in his first Gold Cup
Kayf Tara beat Double Trigger in his first Gold Cup (Michael Stephens/PA)

Bin Suroor’s five Gold Cups compares favourably to Aidan O’Brien’s record of eight, four of which he won with Yeats.

Classic Cliche (1996), Kayf Tara (1998 and 2000), Papineau (2004) and Colour Vision all took the meeting’s highlight and the former policeman confesses to having a fondness for the race.

“I like the stayers. Five times I won the Gold Cup. To win it, you have to have lots of stamina and lots of class, that’s why certain horses could win it more than once,” said Bin Suroor.

“It’s hard to win any race at Royal Ascot but the Gold Cup is very hard to win. It’s a special race and the memories will live with me for a long time. We were lucky we had those horses.”

Bin Suroor also feels one other factor played a part in his Ascot success.

“You need the right jockey. Jerry Bailey, Frankie, Gary Stevens, they are the best in the world wherever you go. You have to give your horse the best chance, so you get the best jockey,” he said.

“You need everything in your favour to win the biggest races; the ground, the trip and the jockey – and then you have a chance.”

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While he did love to win the Gold Cup, Bin Suroor highlights the Queen Anne and Prince of Wales’s Stakes as the cream of the crop.

He added: “They are the truly great races. The Queen Anne tells you the best miler and the Prince of Wales’s the best 10-furlong horse and I have good records in both.”

Real World and Marco Ghiani winning the Royal Hunt Cup
Real World and Marco Ghiani winning the Royal Hunt Cup (David Davies/PA)

In the last decade, winners at Royal Ascot have proved harder to come by for Bin Suroor, but that just means when they do, he appreciates them even more.

“I enjoyed Real World winning the Hunt Cup. Then he went on and won a Listed, a Group Three and a Group Two. It meant a lot,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to running Summer Of Love. She won recently at Kempton and she’d only worked four times, she wasn’t ready. She should run in the Buckingham Palace.

“I have Wild Tiger too, he is an improving horse, he’s won two already this season and will go well in the Hunt Cup.

“It is much harder trying to win 30-runner handicaps than the Group Ones, though!”

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