Simsir, formerly trained in Ireland by Michael Halford and bought privately this fall, won the Bahrain International Trophy on his first start in the Kingdom at Sakhir Racecourse on Friday.
In a tight finish to the 2000 metre race (about one and a quarter miles) the Aga Khan-bred gelding held off the strong international challenge of trainers John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien, as Simsir claimed the prize by a neck from Global Giant and 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner Sovereign, a nose further back, in a tight finish.
Coolagh Forest had taken out the lead in the early stages of the race, before Simsir emerged as the only challenger to him. Coming towards the home stretch both Coolagh Forest and Simsir had a substantial lead over the other 12 runners.
The winning rider, Scotland-born Lee Newman, who was champion apprentice rider in Britain in 2000, sent Simsir to the front 300 metres from the wire and looked as though he would win comfortably. With 100 metres to go, however, Global Giant and Frankie Dettori and Sovereign and Ryan Moore went in chase of the leader. Both European-trained horses took the lead from the Fawzi Adbulla Nass-trained Simsir, before the four-year-old gelded son of Coolmore stallion, Zoffany, battled back to win at the death.
“I took the bull by the horns at the five-furlong pole and kicked on from there,” Newman said. “It’s a track that you can do that at if your horse is a galloper, and he is that. It is down to (trainer Fawzi Abdulla Nass) 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.”
“To win such an amazing race is an absolute thrill,” Nass said. “He has done it so bravely. (Former trainer) 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.”
Simsir was winning his fourth win from 10 starts but his first since 27 February 2020, when he claimed a handicap at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE.
As a three-year-old Simsir won two of his first three starts before undertaking a campaign in Dubai earlier this year,. He won a 2000 metre turf handicap at Meydan Racecourse on 27 February 2020.
Following his United Arab Emirates campaign, the then Michael Halford-trained son of Zoffany was runner-up in the Listed Silver Stakes at The Curragh in July.
Nass bought Simsir following his fifth place finish in the Northfields Handicap at The Curragh on day 2 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend 2020.
Photo Courtesy of Coolmore