UAE champion trainer Satish Seemar licence suspended after US sanctions listing

Horse Racing Sateesh and Bhupal Seemer
Satish Seemar (left) with assistant Bhupat Seemar, who has taken over the training licence at Zabeel Stables. Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins

By Jon Lees

UAE: Six-time champion trainer Satish Seemar has had his licence temporarily suspended after he revealed he had been placed on a US sanctions list.

His assistant Bhupat Seemar has taken over the licence at Zabeel Stables until further notice. He is set to saddle his first runners since the change was made at Meydan on Thursday.

Satish Seemar announced the news in a statement posted on Twitter by Dubai Racing TV host Laura King, revealing the issue involved his past training of North America, the G1-winning horse who was owned by Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic.

He said: “I have been informed by the Emirates Racing Authority that they are suspending my licence temporarily, with immediate effect. This is due to one of my former clients being included on the United States OFAC list (Office of Foreign Assets Control). I have been placed on the list due to training the horse.

“The horse in question, North America, is no longer in training at Zabeel Racing Stables, and has been exported from the UAE. My case has been submitted to lawyers in Washington DC and I am confident my name will be removed from the list in the near future.

“Bhupat Seemar will be holding the licence until further notice and he and the excellent team at Zabeel Stables will endeavour to uphold the high standards we have maintained throughout the past 30 years.”

Horse Racing
North America: the G1 winner raced for the sanctioned Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins

Seemar’s name was added to the sanctions list by the US Department of the Treasury in December 10 last year in a press release timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day.

Under the heading ‘Serious Human Rights Abuse in Russia’, the Treasury department alleged that since Kadyrov was placed on the sanctions list in 2017 for serious human rights abuses, his Kadyrovtsy organisation had continued under his direction to carry out “kidnapping, torturing, and killing members of the LGBTI population in the Chechen Republic.

“The Kadyrovtsy are accused of illegal abductions, torture, extrajudicial executions, and other abuses, including the detention of journalists and activists.”

OFAC described Seemar as a “prominent member of his network”, stating: “Satish Seemar, a horse trainer for Kadyrov, has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial material, or technological support for, or goods and services to or in support of, Kadyrov,” it said.

North America raced in Kadyrov’s name from March 2017 and enjoyed his biggest success when landing Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge in 2018 in which he broke California Chrome’s track record when beating Thunder Snow by five and a quarter lengths in the G1 prize.

The victory secured him the first of two starts in the Dubai World Cup but after finishing last in 2018, he was seventh in 2019, both times behind Thunder Snow. He added two G2 wins in 2019 and had his last start in March this year.

Indian-born Seemar, 59, is one of Dubai’s longest serving trainers and was a key figure in establishing the emirate as a racing destination.

He made history in 1993 when becoming the first UAE-based trainer to win a race in Europe when Dayflower won the Middleton Stakes at York in the United Kingdom. 

• View the US Treasury Department press release

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