Classic-winning jockey Ted Durcan has long been able to rely on Dubai as a source of success.
The former Jack Berry apprentice found his career stalling in his early days as a senior jockey, before a run of victories in Dubai, riding for Sheikh Mohammed’s eldest son Sheikh Rashid, which got his ball rolling again. As well as winning several UAE jockeys’ championships, Durcan was consequently able to establish himself as a leading jockey in Europe too, with the high points of his career in Britain to date including his Classic victories in the 2007 Oaks on the Henry Cecil-trained Light Shift and 2009 St Leger for Godolphin on Mastery.
Durcan’s latest big winner in Dubai, though, comes from a completely different unlikely source: Singapore.
Sheikh Mohammed’s aim for the Dubai International Carnival is that it should feature high-class horses from all around the world. The field for Thursday’s UAE 2,00 Guineas Trial must, therefore, have pleased him. The 14-strong line-up included colts bred in Britain, Ireland, America, Argentina and Australia; and, although Godolphin’s two trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood al Zarooni each saddled a fancied runner, the prize went to Durcan’s mount Dark Matter, trained in Singapore by Steven Burridge.
Dark Matter was well-travelled even before he headed for Dubai this year, having been bred in Australia by Bellagio Lodge Pty Ltd. His victory set up an interesting evening for leading Australian stallion Redoute’s Choice, whose Australian-bred son Musir won Round One of the Al Maktoum Challenge 70 minutes after Dark Matter’s victory. Redoute’s Choice is now well established as a sire of sires as well as of racehorses, and Dark Matter’s sire Stratum, winner of the Golden Slipper in 2005, is a member of his second crop.
Dark Matter’s trainer Steven Burridge has a similarly interesting background. Formerly a jockey both in his native Australia and in Macau, he numbers the 1984 Group One Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield (as well as a maiden race at Seymour in 1987 on board the subsequent champion Super Impose) among his victories in the saddle. After increasing weight forced him to contemplate a career change, Burridge became assistant trainer in Singapore to Claude Charlet (now best known as Racing UK’s French expert) before becoming a trainer in his own right. He now ranks as one of the leading trainers in Singapore, where he was champion trainer in 2010.