Simsir shines under Lee Newman in Bahrain International Trophy

Simsir caused an upset in the second running of the Bahrain International Trophy at Sakhir racecourse under former champion apprentice Lee Newman.

Formerly trained by Mick Halford in Ireland, the Zoffany gelding joined Bahrain national Fawzi Nass only recently and benefited from an enterprising ride by Newman

John Egan set stiff early fractions on Coolagh Forest and while the rest of the field were content to ignore him, Newman never let the leader out of his sight.

Before turning into the home straight Simsir took over at the head of affairs in the £500,000 showpiece and it then became a matter of whether he could hold on.

Global Giant was awkward from the stalls under Frankie Dettori and had to come wide before making rapid strides late on, with Ryan Moore and last year’s Irish Derby winner Sovereign also finishing strongly.

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The three flashed across the line almost together but Newman – who attempted similar tactics in last year’s race on Rustang only to be caught late on – had just left enough up his sleeve.

Nass also ran the well-fancied Port Lions but he finished just out of the frame in fourth.

Nass said: “This is a dream come true. I’m usually an invitee at another country so it’s nice to win it at home.

“It was a thrilling race, but I think the jockey won the race – Lee Newman gave him an absolute peach. Lee has been riding well here and knows the track well which is why we opted for him.

“I had to pick Port Lions (unplaced), but obviously Simsir is a good horse in Europe so he deserves to be here.

“It’s too early to think what is next, I didn’t expect this.”

Lee Newman and Simsir hold off Global Giant and Sovereign
Lee Newman and Simsir hold off Global Giant and Sovereign (Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club)

Nass added: “Mick Halford always assured me that he likes it firm and he was right. For me, it was the jockey’s race. I thought he committed early in the straight, but he proved me wrong!”

Newman, who was champion apprentice in Britain in 2000, has broken his back and his neck in a career that has spanned across the globe.

He was very appreciative of getting the call up from Nass, and said: “I took the bull by the horns at the five-furlong pole and kicked on from there. It’s track that you can do that at if your horse is a galloper and he is that.

“It is down to Fawzi for putting his trust in me as he could have asked any jockey from anywhere in the world, but he asked me. I am delighted.”

Group One-winning Deirdre, who was making her final start under Hollie Doyle, could only finish eighth.

Baker branching out in Bahrain

Trainer George Baker is excited about setting up a satellite yard in Bahrain.

Baker, who has enjoyed his best days with the likes of Belgian Bill and Boomshackerlacker, has never been afraid to travel his horses – including for several notable wins in France.

He also won on the ice at St Moritz in February with Wargrave, a recent winner over hurdles.

Friday sees the Bahrain International Trophy run for the second time – with plenty of British interest in the shape of Lord Glitters, Desert Encounter and Global Giant. Japanese star Deirdre is another lining up and is set to be ridden by Hollie Doyle.

“We are hugely excited at the official announcement of a long-term partnership between the Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club and George Baker Racing, which signals our long-term commitment to horse racing in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and we look forward to the establishment of a satellite yard in the coming months,” said Baker.

“We have been very impressed with the commitment and vision of the REHC.

“The quality of the field for the upcoming Bahrain International Trophy is testament to the quality of the racing surface and the facilities on site, and we are excited to become a part of an ambitious and burgeoning horse racing jurisdiction.”

Dream Castle ready for Bahrain International Trophy

Dream Castle is all set to bid for glory in the Bahrain International Trophy.

Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old is due to come up against Aidan O’Brien’s 2019 Irish Derby winner Sovereign, last year’s Queen Anne Stakes hero Lord Glitters and Charlie Appleby’s Loxley on Friday.

Loxley will be representing Godolphin, as will Dream Castle – a winner at the highest level in Dubai in 2019.

“Dream Castle is a nice horse who always tries his best,” said Bin Suroor.

“The surface will suit him, so we’re looking for a good run from him.

“So far he’s in good form. He won well the race before his last one, and he ran well last time out, so we’re looking forward to seeing him race again.

“He’s won a Group One in Meydan. He’s very good there – I think he enjoys being out there and he likes the track, (so) that’s why I think Bahrain might suit him.

“The horse is tough. He’s doing well, and this looks a good race for him over a mile and a quarter – he’s fine over anything from a mile to 10 furlongs.”

Andrew Balding’s Bangkok and John Gosden’s Global Giant are other notable runners, along with the Hollie Doyle-ridden Deirdre.