UAE - If Algiers’ remarkable transformation from a turf horse to a dirt specialist comes as a surprise to some fans, they just need to look at his trainer. That man started as a journalist, then became the Racing Manager of one of the world’s biggest thoroughbred operation, before taking up his trainer’s license at the age of 52 and started producing winners straightaway.
Simon Crisford, 60, with his son Ed as joint trainer, will hope to recreate some of the finest moments of his life in Dubai when, as the Racing Manager of Godolphin, he forged a stunning partnership with trainer Saeed Bin Suroor and landed multiple champions at Dubai World Cup and in races across the globe.
Dubai is very special for Simon. When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai first thought of starting the Dubai World Cup, he formed a committee of four people to work out the nitty-gritty. Crisford was one of them.
“I’ve been in Dubai since 1992. It’s been an amazing development for the city and the country and the Dubai World Cup itself. When it was initially started, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed formed a committee, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that. We came up with the proposals for this race, and it was rubber-stamped by Sheikh Mohammed. It's been an extraordinary race ever since,” reminisces Simon.
Like most other racing fans in the region, Dubai Millennium left an indelible impression on Simon.
“I think Dubai Millennium was obviously the most amazing horse that we were lucky to be associated with,” said Simon of the 2000 Dubai World Cup champion.
“He had so much raw energy and so much natural talent. I think nothing less than a dominating victory would have sufficed that night. We were a little bit worried when we saw how fast the early fractions were. The horse was carting Frankie around the track, and, when he quickened the game in the straight, it was a really memorable occasion.”
Simon and Ed are now hoping the remarkable Algiers will do something similar. Winner of his last two races at Meydan – the 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 and the 1800m Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 — the six-year-old gelding is second favourite for the race behind defending champion Country Grammer.
“We’re incredibly excited about it. It obviously means a lot to myself and Ed, but we’ve been very lucky and blessed that the horse was allocated to us by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed when he came from France to here,” said Simon.
“The horse really transformed for racing on this surface. He was a very rock solid 110 (rating) horse on turf. But since he’s been running on this race track (dirt), which really plays to his strengths, he’s stepped up to another level and he’s now running to 120. And I think the change of the surface is what has brought that improvement about.
“He’s been here all winter and he’s acclimatised. He actually prefers this type of training to the training we do back home in England. The most unusual thing is when he started running on a dirt track, he was an absolute natural at it.
“He’s not Dubai Millennium, but he is a very, very good horse on dirt.”
1:59.50 is the record time for the Dubai World Cup set in 2000 by the one and only Dubai Millennium
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