Dubai: Such are the fickle ways of horseracing when trainer Doug Watson uncharacteristically drew a blank at last week’s 2018-2019 UAE season opener at Jebel Ali Racecourse.
However, the reigning champion returns to his happy hunting ground at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday where he undeniably has strong claims in the majority of the evening’s seven-races, on a card sponsored end-to-end by Pillar Partner, Emirates Airline.
"Pat Dobbs had a tough choice — probably mostly between Mizbah and Street of Dreams, who we hope will have a good season."
— Doug Watson | Reigning champion trainer
Watson has been the leading trainer at the iconic venue that is established as the sport’s headquarters in the UAE. Runners prepared at his Red Stables, located in the heart of Dubai, are known to thrive on the dirt track that was introduced four seasons ago.
The American handler saddles no less than 17 runners, including four in the Dh210,000 emirates.com handicap, the highlight for the evening. Run over 2000 metres, the race has attracted 10 contenders led by Trinity Force, who won this race last season.
Watson quartet include Mizbah, a close runner-up in the same contest 12 months ago, and Active Spirit, both owned by the popular EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) syndicate.
Watson has been the leading trainer at the iconic Meydan that is established as the sport’s headquarters in the UAE.
Justin Byrne, the driving force behind the successful partnership, said: “Sadly Mizbah suffered a setback after an excellent run when second in this 12 months ago and only ran twice more.
“As a result, he had a relatively quiet season and appears to have benefited for it because he is working well. He runs his best races fresh.
Was the year when racing was first held at Meydan
“These are also ideal conditions for Active Spirit, who is also in good form at home (Red Stables). The only possible negative is the draw with Mizbah out in 10, Active Spirit in eight; we would have preferred to be nearer the rail.”
Watson, who also sends out Street Of Dreams and Dehbashi, commented: “Pat Dobbs (stable jockey) had a tough choice — probably mostly between Mizbah and Street of Dreams, who we hope will have a good season.
“All four of mine are in good shape. Hopefully, we have four live chances in an open race.”
When a new dirt track was introduced
Sandeep Jadhav, who trains out of the Fazza Stables of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, landed the Jebel Ali feature last Friday with High on Life and is represented in this by Montsarrat, a winner of 2,200-metre at Meydan in January.
The trainer also saddles Galles, who was second in last season’s Jebel Ali Stakes. He said of his duo’s chances: “In reality, Montsarrat and Galles are our strongest chances in a competitive race.
“We could not be happier with them at home and it was great to get off the mark last week in my first full season as trainer at Fazza Stables.”
Spectators can be accommodated in the grandstand
Former champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi is represented by Key Bid and last year’s race winner. Trinity Force.
“Both are in good form at home,” Al Rayhi said. ”Key Bid works well on the dirt, but is racing on it for the first time, whereas Trinity Force is proven on the surface.”
Al Aasfa Stables boss Ahmad Bin Harmash-saddles newcomer New Trails, a lightly raced son of Medaglia d’Oro, who was previously raced by Godolphin.
The trainer said: “Hopefully, he can produce the level of form he is displaying in his training because he has been working very well.”
The evening kicks-off with the Emirates Holiday Maiden featuring five exciting two-year-olds.
square metres is the area that the entire development covers
Here again, all eyes will be on Watson entry, Every Single Day, who is a product of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale where he was sold for a tidy $135,000 to the Russian Racing Syndicate.
Phoenix Thoroughbred’s, the brainchild of Bahrain-born and UAE-based Amer Abdul Aziz, appears to have an interesting contender in the form of American-bred Luxor Temple, while Jadhav is represented by Takhteet and Mneef.
Bin Harmash’s Walking Thunder completes the compact field.