Dubai: Red Stables boss Doug Watson will venture into Dubai World Cup night “very hopeful” that his “best group” has some “decent chances” on one of the world’s most prestigious annual race meetings.
American Watson leads nine contenders that is spread over five of the nine races on the card. He first saddles the trio of Midnight Sands, Golden Goal and Premier Star in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and will next be in action with Motafaawit in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
A race later, Mnasek and Speight’spercomete represent his yard in the Group 2 UAE Derby, with Al Tariq and Canvassed taking their place in the subsequent Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News. Thegreatcollection is his ninth and final runner and will line up against the odds in the showpiece $12 million Dubai World Cup, which brings the curtain down on the card at Dubai’s marquee Meydan Racecourse.
Watson is confident heading into the night, but will have his fingers crossed on Wednesday, which is starting gates lotto day — the Post Position Draw. It’s an against-the-odds kind of story for Watson too as his stable battled back from a massive COVID-19 outbreak at his yard that put the team out of action for a month. Despite the lengthy absence, Watson and his team fought back valiantly, with the American reining in the rest of the opposition to take his spot at the summit of the UAE Trainers’ Championship.
Watson said: “This is probably the best group we’ve taken into World Cup night. Everybody’s worked so hard this year and it’s just a culmination of everything.
“We basically had the month of January where riders, grooms that weren’t in quarantine, didn’t take a day off, we couldn’t. We had to start early because we couldn’t be on the track at the same time as the others and we had to finish later and everybody just pulled together and did a great job.
“It’s nice to see how we are finishing and nice to see the owners have given us some great horses that we’ve gotten to World Cup night with some decent chances. It’s a real nice group and we’re very hopeful.”
“When you’re running in these types of races you just want your horses to perform to their abilities. So we just want them to run well and have clean trips. Hopefully, we get some good draws.”
Watson is quick to thank his team and assistant trainer Noel Connolly for the work behind the scenes.
“This is a testament to the owners that give us such great horses and the team that helps me get the job done,” Watson said.
“Noel Connolly has to get probably most of the credit, he’s been here some 27-28 years now and been my assistant for I think our 18th season and everybody just pulled together. I’m very proud of them and what we’ve achieved so far and hopefully we can have a good night on Saturday.”
Watson knows what having a good night is all about. He won the Godolphin Mile back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 with One Man Band leading a memorable 1-2-3 for his yard the first time and Second Summer helping him defend the title the following year. He’s also had Polar River and Rayya take second in the UAE Derby in 2016 and 2018.
“We won the Godolphin Mile two years in a row and have been second twice in the Derby,” the six-time UAE Champion Trainer added.
“We were 1-2-3 in the Godolphin Mile, so we’ve had some good runs. It’s tough racing and that has propelled us to get some better quality horses that can compete maybe a little bit better on the night.
“You have to be lucky, you have to get good draws and the riders that are on them help us out that way too so we’re just really looking forward to next weekend, to be honest can’t wait until it’s over.”