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UAE Champion trainer Doug Watson enjoyed a night to remember at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday landing five out of seven races including one of the three AED250,000 Listed highlights.
In addition to five winners the Red Stables handler also saddled the runner up and third place getter in the two races he did not win.
Held over 2000m, The Entisar Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors, was the first of the Listed races and was turned into a procession by the Watson-trained Storm Belt.
Ridden by Fernando Jara the pair stalked the speed throughout the first part of the contest before shooting through a gap on the rail 700m out and skipping clear.
The result was never in doubt afterwards and it was an impressive performance.
“We had a lovely clear passage and the gap appeared when I wanted,” said Jara. “He responded immediately when I asked him.
“He has plenty of good form in the book looking back but has really stepped up here and could well build on this.”
The Garhoud Sprint Sponsored by Lincoln Continental, over 1200m also went Watson’s way with My Catch and stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, who rode a treble on the night, basically leading from the outset.
Fastest away, they went straight to the front and were never headed, storming clear at the top of the straight to deny Muarrab, last season’s Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, a repeat victory in this particular race.
“He timed the break to perfection,” said Dobbs. “And that is so important with this horse who seems to run his best races fresh so the fact he had not run before this season was not a concern.
“I knew Muarrab was chasing us but never thought he would get past as I was traveling so strongly.”
The meeting opened with the only Purebred Arabian contest on the card, the inaugural running of The Madjani Stakes Sponsored by Lincoln Navigator, a Conditions race over 1900m.
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum owned two of the 12 runners, both trained by Watson and, separated by a nose and decided only by a photo, they filled the first two places.
In the first silks, Dane O’Neill, aboard Sauternes Al Maury appeared to have the race in safe keeping when hitting the front about 100m out, only to be snared in the final strides by Bon Basier De Faust and Sam Hitchcott.
“That was a nice surprise because, to be honest, I did not think we had won,” said Hitchcott. “Everything happened a bit quick for him last time over 1400m and this longer trip, behind a fast gallop, really suited him.”
Watson was soon back in the winner’s enclosure after Dobbs made virtually all aboard debutant Cosmo Charlie in The Lincoln MKT Trophy, a 1400m juvenile maiden.
It was a very pleasing effort with the pair quickening clear on leaving the home turn and never looking likely to be caught.
“He was very professional on his debut and had a really nice experience which is always important,” said Dobbs. “I rode him work the other day and he was very keen so I just wanted to let him enjoy himself. He was very willing when I needed him to quicken. It was a good performance in a decent maiden.”
The Lincoln MKX Trophy, a 2000m maiden, also went the way of Watson and Dobbs, this time courtesy of Dehbashi who showed a very willing attitude to lead where it mattered.
“He may not be blessed with the most natural pace but he is a great battler as you just saw,” said Dobbs. “He is a big baby and needs these longer trips so opportunities may be limited with him but he will only improve with time, age and racing.”
It didn’t all go Watson’s way however with two-time Dubai World Cup runner, Candy Boy, his big hope in the Listed 2000m race, being pulled up by Dobbs and was later found to be lame.
“It has been an amazing evening,” said Watson. “It is my name on the license but remember this is a big team effort and I have great staff who work very hard.
“I know we had four winners on a card once but I am pretty sure this is the first time we have had five.
“But again, this is a credit to the whole team and I am very lucky to have such dedicated and professional staff.”
Entering the straight in the 1600m The Lincoln MKC Trophy, the only handicap on the card, it looked as if Sheikh Hamdan’s Moosir and Dane O’Neill would provide Watson a fourth consecutive victory on the card.
However, it was at this moment that jockey Fernado Jara clearly had other ideas, and committed Muhtaram for home. From then on the pair were always holding the sustained effort of Moosir.
Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, Muhtaram now has three career victories to his name, all over this 1600m Meydan trip. That victory initiated a double for Jara who would later score on Watson’s Storm Belt.
The 1600m Dubai Creek Mile Sponsored by Lincoln MKZ was the finale and was won emphatically by Fitzgerald, partnered by Antonio Fresu for Ahmad bin Harmash.
Initially the Watson-trained Cool Cowboy and Dobbs looked set to crown an amazing evening for Watson with a sixth trip to the winner’s enclosure. They had no response however when Fitzgerald pounced 300m from home and the Red Stables pair faded into third.
Fresu’s mount then powered home to record a career best and third victory overall.
“I was actually pretty confident coming into the race,” said Fresu. “We travelled very nicely and then he quickened in style. He is a progressive horse and, hopefully, has more to offer in the future.”