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Watson hopes to keep dreams alive as World Cup approaches

Trainer reports Silver Pond to be ‘fit and ready' for ultimate test

Australian jockey Craig Williams, riding Dunaden, passes French jockey Thierry Jarnet
Image Credit: Reuters
Australian jockey Craig Williams, riding Dunaden, passes French jockey Thierry Jarnet, riding Silver Pond, to win the Hong Kong Vase at the Shatin racetrack in Hong Kong in December last year. Silver Pond, which came third, is now under trainer Doug Watson and will have a go at the Dubai World Cup.
Gulf News

Dubai: Trainer Doug Watson hopes Silver Pond will keep the dream alive for Emirati owner Saeed Nasser Al Romaithi by running a big race in Saturday's $10 million (Dh36.7 million) Dubai World Cup (G1).

The well-bred son of Act One was bought by Al Romaithi last December with the aim of running him in the world's richest race, and Watson reports Silver Pond to be ‘fit and ready' for the ultimate test of his life.

"He's done really well since his last race in the Al Maktoum Challenge," said Watson, a three-time champion trainer in the UAE.

"He will have his final piece of work on Monday, just a nice easy workout on the Tapeta to keep him ticking.

"The thing about the Tapeta is that it's a tough surface and that not all horses like it. But we know that we have a high class animal that goes well on it, which is pretty encouraging."

Watson, who received Silver Pond at his Red Stables in January, revealed that he had actually considered pointing the ex-French horse at one of the support races on the Dubai World Cup card.

"He came over from Hong Kong, via France and I was looking forward to running him in the Dubai city of Gold [3,200 metres turf], but Romaithi had a dream of getting into the World Cup. I'm glad we went the way we did, because he deserves his place in the race."

The American handler is also hoping it will be third time lucky having previously saddled Shakis (2006) and Elmustanser (2005) in the Dubai World Cup.

"The other two were doing quite the opposite," he said. "That year Shakis was 17 on the list to get into the Dubai Duty Free (G1) and he would have run well there. But we weren't able to get in so we went ahead and tried him on the dirt which didn't quite work out. Elmustanser came over rated 100 and he was third in the Al Maktoum Challenge, so we got invited. But he was probably a bit over his head.

High hopes

"This guy belongs with these type of horses, so the scenario's a bit different this time. So we're just hoping he runs a really good race. We have six days left to dream that we can do something and we'll see what happens," he added.

Watson confirmed that Johnny Murtagh has been booked to ride Silver Pond on Saturday. It will be the first time that former Irish champion has ridden the horse but Watson did not see a problem in that.

"Oliver [Peslier] loved him when he rode him in the Al Maktoum Challenge but he is committed to ride the Germany horse Zazou. So Johnny was the choice of the owner," Watson said.

"Johnny a terrific jockey, he's won so many Group Ones in his life, he even won 15 in one year. So you have a guy on him that's very used to riding in these type of high-pressure races, so it's nice."

The handler also acknowledged that line of attack would play a big part in the race. "It's always about strategy in the World Cup. They walked up front last year and Mirco Demuro made a middle move that won the race for Victoire Pisa," he added.