As a Private Equity investor, Sean Ewing has been doing business in Dubai for the past 20 years. His business interest includes Healthcare, Hospitals, Oil and Gas, Education, Financial Training, Cloud Hosting as well as online ventures such as Superyachts.com.
Together with Mike Kaye of Touch Gold Racing, Ewing has been part of Dubai’s racing fraternity since 2014. Sean Ewing chats to Ten Furlongs about his passion for racing, his horses, his love for Dubai and much more:
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your association with Dubai. How did you get involved with horses? Can you please tell us a bit more about your family?
A: I have been doing business in Dubai for some 20 years. I have used Dubai and have used it as a base to invest and divest in many other ventures, due to the favorable tax environment, ease of travel and living in the dynamic ever-changing City, that is, Dubai.
My horse interest began, when I used to visit my Grandfather in Ireland and collect the water for the house with a Donkey and Cart. Whilst this is indeed a true story, (Donkey and cart for water) no it did not really ignite my equestrian interest. This initiated with my daughters when I lived in Majorca during the late nineties. They have gone on to ride competitively in the showjumping arena, but more particularly was peaked when I met Mike Kaye of (now Touch Gold Racing Owner and Manager) nearly 7 years ago and we bought 50% each of Dubai Iconic in March 2014.
Having come from an Investment Background and Managed Various Funds and Hedge Funds, I had previously applied a very Quantitative approach in the analysis of Companies in order to identify those more likely to outperform and underperform the market. This approach using screening software based on the input of various data tilted the odds in favour of the decision making. Mike’s approach as an "investor" in horse races and horse racing mirrored this to such an extent, that I could readily understand that this matched with great training could reasonably solid yield permitting me to enjoy the experience with him and the others that he subsequently attracted to join the new purchases.
My daughter's ponies cause a lot more trouble than having Zabeel train, provide excellent livery and look after the Dubai racehorses!
Q: Please tell us more about your horses in Dubai? Which races are they aimed at? What are your plans for them after the season ends?
A: I personally bought Flag Festival on the basis of its breeding as an opportunistic buy, unfortunately, he contracted colic shortly thereafter and we were fortunate he pulled through after major surgery. We have been patient with him and at last, he is moving toward full fitness and is lightly raced - so as always we hope. I also bought Light the Lights from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid late last year when it was suggested he was for sale. We were aware he needed a little surgery to help his breathing and again it was an opportunistic buy for a 113 rated proven Meydan winner. We should know soon if it has worked as he has been trying to settle back into racing after a long break and a history of difficulty.
I also own 60% in Speedy Move, (half brother to Ravens Corner) who I bought with Mike Kaye a number of years ago, he has been such a lovely horse, always competes, so honest, lovely temperament and wins a race most years and is such a joy to us all. One day I hope to take him back and have my daughter work with the right people to retrain him to be an eventer, a daily hacking and beach galloping pleasure or any role or discipline he may warm to.
Q: Do own and race thoroughbreds anywhere else in the world?
A: With Mike and Touch Gold we had amazing success with Fanciful Angel who we bought in July 2016 who went on to win in the Carnival in Meydan, 2nd in the Arlington Million and thereafter 2nd in the Breeders Cup at Belmont in 2017. His passing away in a freak accident in his stall was a travesty and was upsetting to all of us involved. I have entered again the overseas arena but it's very early days, so maybe more another time.
Q: We were very shocked when Raven’s Corner passed away. When did you buy him? Please tell us a bit more about him.
A: It’s everyone's dream is it not? You "rock" into horse racing with little to no knowledge, have a little luck enjoy it a lot and then you buy the horse that becomes the "Rock Star" and to this date, the track record holder at Meydan over 7f!
I bought Ravens Corner at the September sale in Dubai on the 8th of September 2016. After surveying a number of horses in the preceding days with my good friends and excellent trainers at Zabeel, Satish and Bhupat Seemar, we narrowed my interest down to two, Riflescope and Ravens Corner. Ravens came early and despite the fact that I ended up bidding against Satish (who was bidding for me) I managed to secure him for the sum of AED 135,000! I felt like Jesse James!!
Seriously though, it was clear we had a great horse and a proven winner who had a small issue in his movement that Zabeel was confident they could address. Mike arrived at the sale a little time after I had bought him and on hearing of my new purchase, advised me that he had been following Ravens and "monitoring him" for some years and he "really liked" the horse. I said to Mike that evening if he wanted to come in for a half share then just let me know within 24 hours, he confirmed in 4 hours that he and some of the syndicate were delighted to be involved! As with all the horses I get involved with Mike and Touch Gold, I leave the management and monitoring and race to choose to him and the Zabeel team including Pat, Richie Bhupat and Satish, all great people that really enhances the experience of me as an owner.
His passing and how it happened is something that I really struggle with to this day. I am still trying to gain clarity from Dubai Equine Hospital and have engaged external equine expertise to assist in getting clarity on matters. The horse cut his foot in the last race he ran on January 3rd 2019 (the first night of 2019 Carnival), two weeks later he died after routine surgery at the hospital. As owners, we all need comfort and confidence in the local healthcare provided to our horses. They are much more than prized assets, the joy they extend to so many can’t be measured by the Dollar or the Dirham.
Q: Which was the first Dubai World Cup race you've attended, and which horse did you get to see win the DWC that year? How did it feel to see that race and then compare it to the Dubai World Cup day of today?
A: It was Ravens Corner who got drawn on the outside rail on Super Saturday and remarkably the same again in the DWC. He had to run in the 8f which was also not really his distance but we wanted him to experience it and also of course for us to attend. He was the only horse in the race, and despite his draw, that managed to move ahead of the winner the great Heavy Metal before he eventually and expectedly faded. To have a horse in the field that you know can compete, is a wonderful feeling and makes all the "dips" worth it
Q: What excites you about Dubai and Meydan?
A: The quality of the horses and the facility. The convenience of being just 15 minutes from Downtown and DIFC, the comradery of the same people attending on a weekly basis. And of course, the weather!
Q: Do you buy your own horses? Which sales do you attend annually?
A: Yes as mentioned above, I defer to the experts mentioned to guide me. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing so I listen more than I talk.
Q: What are your racing aspirations this decade? Do you have any bucket list races you would like to win by 2030?
A: It's such a roller coaster in the years I have been involved and I hope to be in the big dipper (the DWC) one day soon again. Hope reigns eternal.