Dubai: Doug Watson and his powerful Red Stables team continued from where they left off in 2016 to once again dominate racing at Meydan racecourse during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and also pick up another UAE trainer’s title.
However, Watson did not have it his own way with Satish Seemar, his former employer at the Zabeel Stables, giving him a run for his money in the race for the championship. Watson prevailed by just two wins, having saddled 40 winners to Seemar’s 38.
In what was a thoroughly entertaining and tense season on the trainer’s front, the jockey’s championship also produced a thriller with both Richard Mullen and Tadhg O’Shea in imperious form.
In the end, Mullen, Seemar’s retained rider edged out the Irishman by just the one winner - 52 to O’Shea’s 51.
However, Mullen finished third behind Watson’s stable jockey Pat Dobbs in Meydan victories while Adrie de Vries, the Flying Dutchman, enjoyed a highly successful season at the track with 13 wins, the same number rides as Mullen.
The Dubai World Cup would once again fall to an American raider with Bob Baffert’s imposing grey, Arrogate, pulling off what at the start of the race, looked like an improbable win.
With Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle and Arrogate having to do it alone at the gates, unlike in his native America where he has always had the assistance of a stall’s handler staying with him in the gate until the starter waves the field off.
The big grey was clearly feeling lonely at the gates as starter Shayne Ryan said ‘go’. He stumbled out clumsily as his 13 rivals brokes smartly and sped on their way. It was now up to Smith to put Arrogate back into the race, and he did drawing on all his years of experience in difficult situations. Keeping his calm, the American nursed his mount while 10 lengths at the back of the field.
But as they say, class will always prevail, and so it was with Arrogate and Smith as they got into a good position as field negotiated the final bend to straighten for the race to the judge.
Fellow American hope Gun Runner got the first run, but it was only a matter of a few metres before Arrogate asserted himself and ran him down to win in compelling fashion.
The 2016-2017 was also a big one for Seemar’s stable flagbearer, North America, who won four races including the Group 3 irebreak Stakes.