Dubai: Champion trainer Doug Watson gave his connections and Red Stables team the perfect confidence booster heading into the fast-approaching 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival when landing a pair of feature races on the final meeting of the year at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening.
A leading trainer at Meydan’s annual international racing extravaganza in 2016, Watson sent out stable stalwarts Stunned and Cosmo Charlie to post eye-catching victories at the seven-race meeting sponsored by Pillar Partner Azizi Developments.
While Stunned won the Dubai Creek Mile and Cosmo Charlie typically romped home the easiest of winners in The Entisar (2000m), it was Watson’s One Man Band who stole the thunder when making a storming return, after an absence of 999 days.
With Sam Hitchcott in the irons, the seven-year-old son of Pivotal came close to pulling off the most improbable of victories when he gallantly led a quality field for most of the trip before cruelly being touched-off in the shadow of the post by stable companion, Stunned.
A clearly emotional crowd went wild as One Man Band was led into the parade ring and rose to their feet to give him one of the warmest welcomes not seen for a long time at Dubai’s flagship racecourse.
Watson, whose horses are known to thrive on the Meydan dirt, was over the moon with One Man Band’s performance and equally of Stunned.
“It was just great to see One Man Band come back and run such a big race,” he said. “This was always going to be a big test, and if there’s any inkling that there’s a problem he’ll be retired.
“If not we’ll pick our races as carefully as we can. It’s just such a nice racecourse.”
No one who has ever had the pleasure of seeing champions like One Man Band in action, will dare to disagree with Watson’s comments.
The trainer also revealed the process in which One Man Band was nursed back to fitness following two luckless years with injury.
“We were two days into cantering after he won the Godolphin Mile (2016) and he got loose and knocked himself pretty good [on his tendon], he said. “We did some stem-cell work with him and got him back. He was going to run in a seven furlong conditions race up the hill at Jebel Ali, but in his last work out before that, we found a lesion on his other tendon and that set him back again.
“It’s unfortunate because he’s been so sound the whole time. He’s never taken a lame step since I’ve known him,” added the Red Stables boss.
With winners like him, Stunned and Cosmo Charlie, Watson can confidently look ahead to the Dubai World Cup Carnival, which kicks-off on January 3 and runs until the $35 million Dubai World Cup meeting on March 30.