Ageless wonder Secret Ambition deserves Godolphin Mile spotlight


Secret Ambition was on the edge of the racing game with retirement staring him in the face. But when trainer Bhupat Seemar and owner Nasir Asker opted to have one last roll of the dice with their ageless stable star he delivered, emphatically.

With old ally Richard Mullen back in the saddle after a gap of three years, the 10-year-old son of Exceed And Excel rolled back the years to upstage some of the best milers in the country in the Jebel Ali Classic, one of the two feature races on the track’s final fixture of the season.

Like previous Zabeel Stables stalwarts, including Reynaldothewizard and North America, Secret Ambition proved that age is only a number and that if you have a big heart, nothing is impossible.

It was a 12th career win for the former UK-based galloper who recorded his first UAE victory back in October 2016.

Among his notable win is the 2019 Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile, Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, and Group 2 Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup card in 2021.

Only a head may have separated Secret Ambition but to put into context what he accomplished on Saturday you had to look no further than the horse he defeated, Tambooada, who is six years younger.

“I don’t know who’s older, him or me,” said Mullen who was posting a seventh win on the horse.

“Not only is he such a game horse but he’s a testament to Bhupat and Satish (Seemar) before that, to keep him going.

“His enthusiasm for the game has never wilted. He’s one horse you don’t want to get into a battle with,” he added.

“He turns up every time wearing his heart on his sleeve. He’s a jockey’s dream because that’s what you want in a horse. You can try as hard as you want but if you don’t have a horse that tries, it’s difficult,” said Mullen.

“In the race, I had a sneaky suspicion that he was getting back to his old self and one thing is he does not give up.”

Saturday’s final Jebel Ali fixture also featured the 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint which was won impressively by the progressive Road Bloc.

Partnered by Oscar Chavez for trainer Osama Refai, the five-year-old gelded son of Street Sense made a winning debut over 1400m on the dirt at Meydan Racecourse and has never looked back.

Two starts later, he won the HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, the first leg of the inaugural Emirates Sprint Series, run at Sharjah. Not only did he pocket the Dh 300,000 first prize on Saturday as the winner of the two-race sprint series but he also earned a bonus of Dh 250,000 for winning both races.

A delighted owner Syed Hashish said: “We have had a great season with our sprinters, both Road Bloc and Colour Up, who were first and second over 1400m for us in the same race in November.

“Both have gone their separate ways but have just continued improving.”

Traditionally, the winner of the Jebel Ali Sprint gets a vote for the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night and Hashish called out for help.

“I’m absolutely hoping for an invite for both horses,” he said. “Please if anyone can make this happen, I will truly appreciate it.”

The afternoon’s racing began with a 1600m maiden for three-year-olds which was won by debutant Ghazzwaan and 10-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, for UAE Champion Trainer Seemar.

“He has been a ‘slow learner’ and is a very big horse but he has always shown ability so that is the perfect start to his career,” said Seemar.

O’Shea added: “He is potentially a very good horse and could well be carnival standard next year.”

Another impressive winner on the card was Hunting Lady, who easily won a 1400m conditions race under Ray Dawson and Emirati handler Ahmad bin Harmash, while a 1600m handicap was snapped up by Justice Protecol, who was posting a fourth win of the season.


> Secret Ambition is a 10-year-old horse and has raced from 2015 to 2023

> He was sired by Exceed And Excel out of the Singspiel mare Inner Secret

> He is the first horse that his Libyan owner Naser Askar ever bought, as a five-year-old

> He is trained by Bhupat Seemar

> Trainer Bhupat fondly describes as being a ‘big fellow,’ with a heart to match

> He has run 49 races, won 12 times and placed third on 15 occasions

> Has only won once in nine starts on a turf track

> He was previously trained by Mark Johnston in the UK for whom he won just once in 10 races and over 1,200 metres

> He has been ridden by 12 jockeys, however, Richard Mullen has had the most success on him with seven wins from 22 rides

> His only win outside of the UAE was at Brighton racecourse in 2015 in the UK where he was ridden by former three-time German champion jockey Frederik Tylicki

> He has raced at Chelmsford City (UK), Doncaster (UK), Jebel Ali (UAE), King Abdulaziz-(Saudi Arabia), Meydan (UAE) with wins at Jebel Ali and Meydan

> His stakes wins include wins in the 2021 Godolphin Mile (G2), 2021 Firebreak Stakes (G3), 2019 Dubai Creek Mile (LS), 2019 Jebel Ali Mile (G3), 2018 Handicap, 2018 Handicap, 2017 Handicap, 2017 Handicap, 2016 Handicap, and the 2016 Handicap


Race 1, Maiden Over A Mile

Ghazzwaan/ T. O’Shea

Race 2. Al Safar Cup

Justice Protecol/ F Jara

Race 3. Bin Dasmal Cup

Thawban/ J V Overneire

Race 4. Al Nayfat Stakes

Hunting Lady

Race 5. Jebel Ali Sprint

Road Bloc/ O Chavez

Race 6. Jebel Ali Classic

Secret Ambition/ R Mullen

Race 7. Tattersalls Cup

National Bank/ P Dobbs


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