Champion trainer Doug Watson served notice of the wellbeing of his string with a five-timer at the last Meydan meeting of 2018, and his challenge at the Carnival is building up nicely, particularly when it comes to the dirt races.
Watson talks Stephen Molyneux of attheraces.com through his team, which is the strongest he has ever put together.
“Still a horse we regard highly, and he can look very impressive on his day, as was the case when twice winning by wide margins last season. He won on his reappearance last year but that was off a mark of 80 carrying 53kg and we expected him to need it in the Garhoud Sprint. That said we were still a bit disappointed but are more than hopeful he can bounce back when he lines up on the 17th January as he has done very well since then.”
“We may look at stretching him out as the staying division can often throw up winnable races, but we will start him off over 2400m on the opening night and for the first time in a while we have had a clean run with him, no niggles at all. He improved a lot from his first run to his second this season, and we hope he can come on again from his second to third.”
“Is beginning to answer a few questions this season, and the longer trip last time certainly helped him travel in his comfort zone for longer, allowing him to do his own thing. People may still question him if taken on up front but I feel he has had the chance to back off this season and didn’t. We will now campaign him like a Dubai World Cup horse and run him in the second round of the Maktoum Challenge.”
“Impressed on his return in the Garhoud Sprint and has done nothing but improve. Will take his chance in the Dubawi on the opening night, he is rated 110 now and those are the sorts of races he has to now run in. His ability to face the kick back will continue to hold him in good stead.”
“I love this horse and I am really looking forward to running him over 1400m on the opening night. He was a sprinter for Roger Varian but has been gelded and I think he can be competitive.”
“No star but a solid contender for handicaps around 2000m. Perhaps his cup final of sorts was in the Entisar last time when only fourth but he will represent the stable whenever the right races pop up. Loves the kickback.”
“Good horse for Sir Michael Stoute and we are excited to have him. Last ran in the middle of October so was a late arrival and may need a bit of time so we are unlikely to see him until nearer Super Saturday. Has the form though to slot straight into those type of races and it is always nice to receive the classy horses from the UK for HH Sheikh Hamdan.”
“I still believe he can be the best horse I have ever trained, and he wouldn’t be the first horse to do a whole lot better in his second season in Dubai compared to the first. That said, he still achieved a good bit last year winning twice (including a Group 3) and his seconds in handicaps both came in small fields dominated from the front by good horses in Boynton and Raven’s Corner. He was then drawn out of it in the Godolphin Mile but still acquitted himself well in finishing sixth, beaten seven lengths. Will improve a lot for his reappearance where we were keen to start him off over shorter as the Garhoud gave us two extra weeks to get ready for the first round of the Maktoum Challenge. A horse that excites me a lot.”
“Great effort to run second in the Godolphin Mile on his dirt debut and will be back on that surface after his disappointing return at Abu Dhabi. He is a big horse, though, so will have needed it and Abu Dhabi probably isn’t that ideal for him for all he won a Listed race there last year. He should run in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge and there is a good programme for the dirt milers which we will stick too.”
“Has come up short in the Golden Shaheen for the last two years but in 2017 was returning from an absence and last season was having his fifth outing of the campaign so we may space his runs out a bit more, hence why we are only starting off in the Dubawi on the opening night. Showed what he could do when landing a Group 3 in February and the small fields that these sprints seem to throw up suit him well. Should make another bold bid on Thursday.”
ONE MAN BAND
“Delighted with his comeback and even more pleasingly came out of the race very well and we can hopefully now press on with him. The Firebreak will be his next outing, so he will have a short break to get over that run, but a good deal of his ability remains, and we still have a racehorse!”
“Only went up to 106 for winning a local Listed race last time so that keeps us in the handicap bracket and that is his level at the Carnival. Delighted for his owner that we could win a good race with him and he will be a solid performer at the Carnival.”
“We have had AL SEEL LEGACY’s win nicely first time and he will point towards the Guineas. I really like RAZEENA and she will improve a lot for her first run having been green, most of our young horses come on a lot for their first efforts. Saturday’s local meeting (5th January) should tell us a lot as well as we run three and I am not surprised Pat Dobbs has opted to ride MOSHAHER as we like him a lot whilst we have Bee Jersey’s full-brother running, TOWN BEE. It won’t be easy as Godolphin are sure to have some smart sorts but hopefully a couple can make it through to the UAE Derby.”