Archie Watson Stable Tour

    The All-Weather provided emerging Archie Watson with his first-ever winner last autumn and the Lambourn trainer hasn’t looked back since. Here, the former assistant to William Haggas talks Simon Mapletoft through his team for the new season.
  • Sunday 22 October 2017
  • Stable Tours

All-Weather racing has been a good friend to young trainer Archie Watson – one of the brightest emerging talents in the country. He saddled his first ever winner just weeks after taking out a license when Ride The Lightning won a Kempton handicap last October, and more success quickly followed, writes Simon Mapletoft

William Haggas’s former assistant achieved Listed success on Polytrack just a few months later with star mare Absolute Blast, who finished second in the Easter Classic on Good Friday after winning the Magnolia Stakes at Kempton.

And as the 50th winner from his historic Saxon Gate Stables in Lambourn approaches, Watson is preparing multiple All-Weather-winning two-year-old Corinthia Knight for a crack at the Breeders’ Cup – as well as the 3YO Sprint Final on Good Friday.

“It’s been an unbelievable year,” he tells me. “The All-Weather got us noticed and gave us the opportunity to build up some momentum through the winter. Since then things have gone from strength to strength.

“The All-Weather really suits my horses. I don’t know if it’s something to do with the way we train but it benefits strong travelling types that like to sit close to the lead and I have quite a few of them.”

Watson, who gained experience Stateside with Graham Motion and Simon Callaghan and in South Africa with top trainer Alec Laird before spending four years with Haggas, has certainly got the taste for top level success on the All-Weather.

He is targeting the £1 million Finals Day with Petite Jack and Brandon Castle, as well as Corinthia Knight, and plans to further strengthen his winter team with potential star recruits at the forthcoming Autumn Sales.

Here Watson, who grew up in Lambourn, runs the rule over his main All-Weather Championships contenders.

Older Horses

Absolute Blast

Form Profile:

This mare put Watson on the map with a string of smart performances on the All-Weather, following up her Listed Magnolia Stakes victory at Kempton with a second to Convey in the Easter Classic. She also finished third in the Group 3 Winter Derby and has achieved a string of other placed efforts in Pattern company at home and abroad.

Trainer Says:

She was the horse that got me noticed and has held her form all year. She ran a great race behind Aidan O’Brien’s War Decree in Listed company at Dundalk last month, despite having to give him weight, and will have her last run of the year in an Italian Group 1. She owes us nothing and is due to go to the Mares Sale at Newmarket in December. She’s a valuable prospect for the paddocks now but if she doesn’t make her reserve she may well come back to me for another All-Weather campaign. I’m expecting her to be sold but all those good races over 10f will be on the agenda if she returns to training after a well-earned break.

Video Form
29 Sep 2017:
16 Jul 2017:
14 Apr 2017:
25 Feb 2017:
31 Jan 2017:

Attain

Form Profile:

Previously with Julia Feilden, this eight-year-old has no secrets but has won six times on the All-Weather, including over 12f for current connections at Lingfield in January. He also fulfils an important role at home as a lead horse and has also helped several aspiring jockeys gain valuable experience over the years. Indeed, he will be a regular ride for Watson’s new stable apprentice Olivia Box-Pook.

Trainer Says:

He runs a lot but takes his racing very well and is a joy to have around the place. He’s been given a short break and will be ridden by Olivia, who has joined me from Henry Daly. She’s been riding most of the work alongside Ed Greatrex and, like him, is a talented rider. I’m looking forward to giving her some chances on the All-Weather, which will teach her a lot, and hope that old Attain can give her that all-important first winner.

Video Form
30 Dec 2017:
13 Dec 2017:
6 Dec 2017:
25 Nov 2017:
17 Aug 2017:

Brandon Castle

Form Profile:

This gelding is a shining example of Watson’s talent as a trainer. The five-year-old had lost his way up in the North after leaving Andrew Balding but has remarkably won five of his first six starts from Saxon Gate, improving almost 30lb as a result. He has enjoyed racing round bends, winning over staying trips at Wolverhampton, Catterick and Chester. Ambitious though it may seem, Brandon Castle was being targeted at the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak in France this month.

Trainer Says:

I think this fellow could be a Cup horse next year. He hasn’t stopped improving so it will be interesting to see how he acquits himself against proper horses. Maybe the change of scenery in Lambourn helped him, but we’ve also worked hard on building his confidence. He has a very high cruising speed but enjoys doing his own thing. We decided to let him race the way he wants to, rather than make him fit any particular plan, and he’s thrived on it. He’ll have a winter break at some point but will come back to get qualified for the Marathon Final.

Video Form
23 Dec 2017:
9 Dec 2017:
31 Jul 2017:
18 Apr 2016:
31 Mar 2016:

Chevallier

Form Profile:

Bought for 33,000gns at last year’s July Sales, this ex-Karl Burke gelding has been another standard-bearer for Watson, following up a string of near misses with a winter double over Lingfield’s mile. Whilst he resumes on a mark of 91, the son of top All-Weather sire Invincible Spirit looks set for another productive campaign on the sand following a summer break.

Trainer Says:

Chevallier has been a legend for us. He ran a huge race in defeat in a big handicap at Epsom on Oaks Day but then came down with colic in the stable yard. He was operated on and had some intestine removed but thankfully it was a success and he’s back in work after a nice long break. There are more races to be won with him off his current mark and he’ll be back for those decent 1m handicaps around Lingfield. He travels well so I wouldn’t be afraid to drop him back to 7f. Luke Morris gets on very well with him and will ride him whenever possible.

Video Form
9 Jan 2018:
7 Dec 2017:
25 Nov 2017:
13 Mar 2017:
4 Mar 2017:

General Hazard (IRE)

Form Profile:

This former Michael Bell gelding has proven a natural on the synthetics, winning four of his 10 starts including two for Watson at Newcastle and Chelmsford City. A lightly raced four-year-old, he wasn’t disgraced in the valuable Rosebery Handicap at Kempton Park in April despite enduring a wide trip and is another who returns to the All-Weather on the back of a lengthy break.

Trainer Says:

We bought him for 20,000gns at the February Sale at Tattersalls after he had finished second to my reliable old horse Attain at Lingfield. To win both of our first two starts with him was fantastic and he will probably stick to 10f for the time being, though he promises to stay further in time. He’s not the easiest to train but flat tracks really suit him. The undulations caught him out in two turf runs but he’s getting back into gear now after his break and remains open to improvement.

Video Form
6 Jan 2018:
25 Nov 2017:
11 Jul 2017:
11 Mar 2017:
2 Mar 2017:

Petite Jack

Form Profile:

This improving gelding won four out of five on Polytrack for previous trainer Neil King last winter before finding 2m beyond his reserves in the Marathon Final. The four-year-old resumed his progress for Watson at Chelmsford City at the end of September – over a much shorter trip – and could be heading back to Lingfield on Good Friday with a different race in mind.

Trainer Says:

Ever since he came to me he’s shown he has a lot of natural speed. He’s worked with Absolute Blast all summer and compares favourably to her in everything he does at home. He did it very impressively over 10f at Chelmsford the other day, despite his tendency to hang, and has scope for improvement off his latest mark of 102. I’ll aim him at all those good 10f races at Lingfield, probably starting with the Listed Quebec Stakes in December, with a view to qualifying him for the Easter Classic.

Video Form
23 Dec 2017:
6 Dec 2017:
18 Nov 2017:
9 Nov 2017:
30 Sep 2017:

Three Year Olds

Alnasl (IRE)

Form Profile:

Three-year-old filly Alnasl has been a standardbearer for Watson this year, winning four times (once on the All-Weather at Wolverhampton) and progressing 11lb in the ratings. A confirmed front-runner, she did well to shoulder a 10st burden on the Tapeta over the extended 9f in August and promises to progress further.

Trainer Says:

She is in the Horses in Training Sale but will probably come back to me if she doesn’t make her reserve. She loves to make the running and can be hard to catch as she usually travels so well. I hoped she’d fare better at Wolverhampton in early October but the race wasn’t really run to suit her. I’ll be targeting fillies’ handicaps if she comes back, as the smaller fields tend to work in her favour.

Video Form
7 Oct 2017:
9 Sep 2017:
11 Aug 2017:
3 Aug 2017:
25 Jul 2017:

Erinyes (IRE)

Form Profile:

This daughter of Dalakhani sustained an injury following her racecourse debut at Kempton in October last year but came back in the best possible style by winning over 1m4f at the Sunbury circuit. This low-mileage filly, who hails from a stout staying family, has had excuses in two runs since on turf and has been freshened up for a winter campaign.

Trainer Says:

She has a lot of ability, is unexposed and will hopefully stay further than 1m4f. I definitely think she’s stronger for her break and am looking forward to getting going with her again. You can put a line through her two turf runs – firstly in a Listed race at Newmarket, which was too much for her at that stage, and then on ground that was too firm at Musselburgh.

Video Form
13 Dec 2017:

Mach One

Form Profile:

A lightly raced three-year-old, Mach One left Clive Cox’s stable in late summer having disappointed on his seasonal return at Nottingham in May. The son of Makfi had already been gelded before arriving at Saxon Gate and has shown definite signs of progress in two starts since – both on the All-Weather at Kempton and Chelmsford City.

Trainer Says:

He was held in high regard at Clive’s but was probably a bit of a thinker and had become a little disappointing. I think the gelding operation has helped him and slowly but surely he’s getting there. He probably didn’t stay 10f at Chelmsford earlier this month but used himself a bit too much in the early part of the race. He reminds me in some ways of my first winner Ride The Lightning. Plenty of ability but the type of horse who will progress the more his confidence improves.

Video Form
31 Dec 2017:
19 Dec 2017:
11 Dec 2017:
16 Nov 2017:
2 Nov 2017:

Snowy Winter (USA)

  • 4-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Elusive Quality - Pamona Ball (Pleasantly Perfect)
  • Trained by: Archie Watson
  • Last Race: Southwell, 14 Jan 2018 14:55
  • Result: 3/8, held up towards rear, wide and headway over 4f out, chased winner 3f out, effort when hampered and carried right entering final 2f, lost 2nd towards finish
  • View full form
Form Profile:

This daughter of Elusive Quality stays well as she proved when scoring over the extended 1m5f at Chelmsford City at the end of September and again at Newcastle this month, over the extended 1m4f. That was her third win from only a handful of starts so it is likely there is more to come from the former Godolphin inmate who broke her maiden over 1m at Hamilton for Watson and is still progressing from the right end of the handicap.

Trainer Says:

The All-Weather really suits this filly. I thought she got into a very nice rhythm at Chelmsford and did it very well, but simply didn’t stay 2m when she followed up under a penalty at the same track. She has a lot of talent and tries hard, which is a real plus, and will be aimed at handicaps over 1m4f plus as the winter unfolds, just like the one she won so well at Newcastle recently. A good galloping track like Newcastle really plays to her strengths.

Video Form
14 Jan 2018:
21 Dec 2017:
20 Oct 2017:
6 Oct 2017:
28 Sep 2017:

Zenovia (IRE)

  • 4-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Invincible Spirit - Zallerina (Zamindar)
  • Trained by: Archie Watson
  • Last Race: Wolverhampton, 8 Jan 2018 16:45
  • Result: 4/9, chased leaders, pushed along over 2f out, ridden and edged left over 1f out, hung left and stayed on same pace inside final furlong
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Watson puts this maiden filly up as his dark horse for the winter. Unplaced in all five starts so far, she has had only one outing for the Lambourn handler since leaving David Simcock when showing some promise in a 7f handicap at Chelmsford City at the end of September.

Trainer Says:

There was no interest in her at the July Sales but Tom Biggs, of Blandford Bloodstock, liked her. Tom is involved in the purchase of most of my horses so we picked her up with one bid for just 800gns. I was pleased with her first run, when I dropped her back in trip, and she’ll come on for it. She shows me a lot more at home than her mark of 58 would suggest and is still learning to race. There’ll be plenty of options for her over 7f and 1m, including a good programme of fillies’ races.

Video Form
8 Jan 2018:
20 Dec 2017:
13 Dec 2017:
28 Nov 2017:
17 Nov 2017:

Two Year Olds

Corinthia Knight (IRE)

  • 3-y-o; chestnut colt
  • Breeding: Society Rock - Victoria Lodge (Grand Lodge)
  • Trained by: Archie Watson
  • Last Race: Kempton, 16 Jan 2018 18:40
  • Result: Won/5, chased leaders, not clear run and switched right over 1f out, soon 2nd, led inside final furlong, ridden and ran on well
  • View full form
Form Profile:

This tough, resilient two-year-old has won three times on the All-Weather at Lingfield, Kempton and Wolverhampton, and found only one too good in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at the Sunbury track in the shape of subsequent Mill Reef Stakes runner-up Invincible Army. His Dunstall Park success was also paid a compliment when Mokaatil – six lengths adrift – finished third in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes. Having earned an official rating of 105, the son of Society Rock is set to take his chance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar in California before returning for a crack at the 3YO Sprint Final.

Trainer Says:

He’s not the biggest but sprinting is his game so his size doesn’t really matter. He deserves to take his chance out in California. Although his best form is on sand, he’s proven on fast turf and is tailor-made for the tight turns at Del Mar. Whatever happens, he’ll come back for a Fast Track Qualifier for the 3YO Sprint Final at Wolverhampton in December before I give him a winter break. If he wins that he’ll be trained specifically for Good Friday but might have a ‘prep’ run first.

Video Form
9 Dec 2017:
4 Nov 2017:
11 Aug 2017:
11 Apr 2017:
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