Saimee aiming for some Shoqeet and awe on Sunday

Saimee Jumaat had a change of heart when he realised the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge he had targeted for Shoqeet would not get underway until June.

Shortly after the promising son of Showcasing brought up his third win at his last start on the 2017 season’s final day on December 3, the Singapore multiple-champion jockey-turned-trainer thought he would tip him off for a well-earned break to bring him back only when the 4YO series rolls around.

Saimee is embarking into his first full season off the back of a first training experience that began in August and ended with a decent score of 14 winners for 139 starters (one winner in every 10 starters). Incidentally, it was Shoqeet who gave him his first career win in an Open Maiden race over 1200m on August 13.

Newly-crowned Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric will bank on Shoqeet to make a winning 
comeback in 2018, picture Singapore Turf Club

The Al Arabiya Stable-trained chestnut gelding is in the line-up to Sunday’s $80,000 Class 3 race over 1800m taking on the likes of recent winner Hidden Promise, Pusaka and Golazo.

“The 2018 programme was late. I was in a dilemma when it came out as I had planned to spell him until the 4YO series, which was his target,” said Saimee.

“It would be too long a break. I looked through the programme and saw this race that looked suitable for him.

“It’s run over the new distance for the Derby – 1800m. I spoke to the owner (Mansoor Gandhi) and we both agreed June would be too late, and we had to keep him running.

“After this race on Sunday, I will look for another race for him in February and hopefully, he can come along nicely towards the 4YO series.”

With the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1800m) earmarked as Shoqeet’s main goal, Singapore’s favourite son will attempt to annex the race he has won twice as a jockey – Ouzo (1998) and Par Excellence (1999) as a trainer this time.

Saimee has stuck with Shoqeet’s last-start winning partner and resuming 2017 Singapore champion jockey Vlad Duric for the ride on Sunday. The pairing had a leisurely spin in a barrier trial on January 4, outpaced throughout and settling ahead of the trailing One Rar before making some ground on the outskirts late to still finish more than eight lengths off the winner Be Bee.

“Vlad has been riding him in trackwork. He trialled him last Thursday and galloped him yesterday and couldn’t be happier with him,” said Saimee.

“He is a horse who gets back and the Long Course will suit him. It’s quite a competitive field but he’s in good form, and fingers crossed, he goes all right.

“I have a very good opinion of this horse and he’s also got a bit of sentimental value as he gave me my first win as a trainer last year. Hopefully, the dream run can carry on.”