Kulbir Sohi’s distinctive red and white spotted silks are becoming a more familiar sight on the Flat and particularly the All-Weather, and this year the Birminghambased entrepreneur has ambitious plans for his growing string.
He only got involved in racing six years ago when he sought a “distraction” from his busy work routine and enjoyed his first taste of ownership as a shareholder with Middleham Park Racing.
As the bug bit harder, Sohi began to have runners in his own name and three years ago his breakthrough horse Absolute Blast won a Listed race and finished second in the 2017 Easter Classic for Archie Watson.
Last summer Time To Study, then based with Ian Williams, galloped his rivals into submission in the valuable Old Burough Cup at Haydock Park and since then the winners have begun to flow with regularity on the sand.
Among them are Concierge, Ginger Fox and The Met for David Loughnane; Tranchee and Badayel for Ivan Furtado and the exciting Marco Botti-trained Felix, who was being aimed at the now postponed Easter Classic on Finals Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.
As you would expect, Sohi, who distributes medical devices and runs soccer schools in his native India among other commercial interests, adopts a business-like approach to his bloodstock. He has sold several horses for a healthy profit and has another potentially valuable asset on his hands in Felix, who was bought out of Sir Michael Stoute’s yard for just 24,000 gns last autumn.
The son of Lope De Vega has won three of his four starts on the All-Weather, the most notable under Ryan Moore at Kempton Park earlier this month. “Ryan really likes him and suggested he would have been well worth his place in the Classic,” he adds. “He’s a very adaptable horse who travels well and might have won all four starts for me had he not become distressed when he ran poorly at Wolverhampton.”
If 102-rated Felix can’t deliver Sohi a first Group success this year, he has faith in The Met making the grade on turf after winning a Wolverhampton novice in December - his second win in only three starts.
“I bought him at the Horses in Training sale for 40,000 gns,” re recalls. “He had won a novice for James Tate and came out and beat an odds-on favourite of John Gosden’s over 8.5f. He will be out again at the end of May and has the scope to progress from his opening mark of 84.”
Sohi also insists we haven’t yet seen the best of Wolverhampton winnerConcierge, who may have been targeted at the 7f apprentice handicap on Finals Day by his trainer Loughnane. “He won over 6f last month but that trip is on the sharp side for him. He will improve over further and Silvestre De Sousa, who has won three times on him, believes he has a big handicap in him.
“David also has an un-raced colt called Going Back To Cali, who is a half-brother to two horses I won races with and then sold for a big profit - The Statesman and Jack Regan. He has a Derby entry and I’m hoping our patience will be rewarded.”
Maintaining his links with Middleham Park, Sohi remains the majority shareholder in top stayer Raymond Tusk, who has beeen sidelined by injury but will be back for another crack at The Ebor after finishing fourth in the big handicap last year en route to an unsuccessful trip to the Melbourne Cup.
“We did have the Coronation Cup in mind for Raymond as an early season target but he has sustained a hairline fracture to a cannon bone, which is why we didn’t send him to the Saudi Cup meeting. He’ll be back, which is good news, and will be targeted at The Ebor.”
Seven two-year-olds are shaping up nicely, too. Richard Hannon has a precocious daughter of crack French miler Vadamos and Botti has high hopes for a Pride Of Dubai, who will hopefully debut in May.
But Sohi is pursuing a policy to invest in young, up and coming trainers like Loughnane, who is looking to strike early with a Kodi Bear called Bodak Yellow and has a Dandy Man half sister to a star of the Saudi Cup meeting, Port Lions, who has been named Star Of Bahrain.
“I like to support young trainers who are hungry, ambitious and have something to prove,” he explains. “I have something to prove, also, and like the idea of working together to see what we can achieve.
“David is based fairly close to me and has a lot of success at my local track, Wolverhampton. He’s very hands on with his horses, which I like. It’s that attention to detail than appeals to me and the fact that he doesn’t want to get so big that he loses that individual contact.
“I’m also a big supporter of Ivan Furtado, who has fantastic facilities near Southwell racecourse. Ivan has done very well with new horses like Tranchee and Badayel and I really hope I can give him a very good horse that will help his career.”
Sohi has also identified new Upper Lambourn trainer Tom Ward’s potential and sent him Sea The Stars gelding Star Of Wells, a 60,000 gns purchase out of William Haggas’s powerful yard that is due to debut for new connections at the end of March.
As well as his increasing band of racehorses, Sohi is also developing his interest in breeding and has nine broodmares in partnership with Nick Bradley, of Nick Bradley Racing fame.
“I met Nick when he worked for Middleham Park and was keen to support him when he set up his own syndicate company,” adds Sohi. “I was involved in a good horse called Commissioned, who won the Queen Alexandra for us. Sadly I couldn’t be at Royal Ascot that day as I was at a family wedding.
“Our best mare is Learned Friend. She has produced a lovely big horse called Pride Of Punjab who will be seeing a racecourse for the first time soon. He’s with Ivan. She also has a Dark Angel yearling and an Oasis Dream foal.
“The breeding of horses fascinates me - it gives me a reason to delve into the form book and follow the sport more closely without just concentrating on my own runners. Owning winners is fantastic but I like the idea of breeding them, as well. Hopefully that will be something else to achieve this year.”