Dubai: Trainers Doug Watson and Salem bin Ghadayeer claimed the opening day’s honours as the 2020-2021 racing season at Jebel Ali Racecourse got off to a cracking start on Friday afternoon.
Former Champion Trainer Watson made strong gains when winning the first three races on the seven-event card before Bin Ghadayer struck to win the final two contests even as the evening shadows began to creep on to the venue’s newly revamped racing surface.
In what was a hugely impressive training performance by Watson, the six-year-old Guernsey emphatically snapped a four-year losing streak to win the Shadwell Farm-sponsored opening race.
The son of Tapit had been luckless in nine starts for Watson since joining his Red stables from South African handler Mike de Kock in 2018 with his only career success in 20 starts coming at Delta Downs in the US in November, 2016.
With Watson’s second jockey Sam Hitchcott in the irons, the Mohammed Khalifa Al Basti-owned gelding ran on well approaching the final two furlongs to take over the running from Rich And Famous, the early leader.
The winner would trigger a three-timer for Watson with Sam Hitchcott and Dark Thunder landing the Shadwell Farm Maiden, while the American’s first jockey, Pat Dobbs, did the honours with Mystique Moon in the Derrinstown Handicap.
Like Watson, Bin Ghadayer appears to have his string in top form early in the season, with What A Metal and Fraserburgh closing out their respective races in dominating style.
Both gallopers, who were ridden by stable jockey Royston French, raced in the light blue racing silks of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, whose horses are based at the Fazza Racing Stables in Dubai.
Ffrench settled What A Metal into a steady rhythm in the Derrinstown Maiden before asking the three-year-old son of Exceed And Excel for his effort approaching the final two furlongs of the five-furlong contest. The response with immediate and the winner finished full of running to comfortably hold off Jebel Ali-trained Sadeed.
The runner-up was bidding to give the new all-French trainer-jockey pairing of Nicholas Bachalard and Ryan Curatolo a first success.
Fraserburgh, a 10-year-old son of top stallion Shamardal, made a big statement for the older generation coming home a six-length winner over Meqdam, the mount of Dobbs.
Meanwhile, the feature race of the afternoon, a seven-furlong conditions event sponsored by Shadwell, saw the lightly raced Mystery Land continue from where he left off in March to post an effortless eight-length victory over Moqtarreb.
The four-year-old son of Sea The Stars, who was ridden with confidence by Pat Cosgrave, was last seen acing his maiden at Jebel Ali.