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Watson Looking For Strong Showing at Meydan New Year Meeting

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Trainer Saddles Three Live Chances in Feature Race

Meydan heralds in the New Year this Thursday with the first UAE meeting of 2014 and US trainer, Doug Watson holds a strong hand in the 1600m feature race.

The Racing at Meydan meeting marks the seven-day countdown ahead of the first Dubai World Cup Carnival race day of the new term on January 9, 2014

Thirteen have been declared for this Thursday`s highlight of the six-race card, with Watson`s local debutant, Ostaad joined by stable companions Maath Gool and Maqaraat, who have both already won this season for the amiable American.

Ostaad, the mount of Dane O’Neill, will only be having his fifth career start, having won once from four outings in the UK when with Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor. That victory was achieved at Wolverhampton, on a similar all-weather surface to that at Meydan and the trainer sounds happy with his new recruit.

“He has certainly pleased us since he arrived and we have taken him to Meydan a couple of times where he has worked well. He will probably come on for the run but we are hopeful of a good show on a surface he appears to like.”

Stable companion, Maath Gool, a winner at Abu Dhabi on his seasonal return, has also won at Meydan, having lost his maiden tag at the flagship track in 2010.

“He has a better draw this time than his last Meydan visit and he seems in great form. He should run well," said Watson.

His third runner, Maqaraat, won on the dirt at Jebel Ali on the first day of the season and will be trying the Meydan all-weather for only the third time. “He ran well enough on the surface last season,” said Watson. “He had a wind operation over the summer and has done nothing wrong since.

“It is great to have three live chances in a competitive race.”

Maqaarat and Ostaad are both owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who is actually responsible for five of the 13 runners and it looks significant that his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, rides Mundahesh, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

This will only be a second local start for Hanagan’s mount, having won a 1400m course handicap on his UAE debut. Hanagan said: “These choices are never easy but Mundahesh goes particularly well on these all-weather surfaces and has a good draw.”

The weights are headed by the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Canwinn, a dual course and distance winner in 2011, and Warsaw, now trained by Satish Seemar. The latter won at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in both 2009 and 2011 for Mike De Kock.

The inexperienced Comicality faces 13 rivals in the fascinating fourth race of the evening, a 1200m handicap. Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, Comicality made a winning debut in a 1400m Meydan maiden at their first meeting of the campaign, before caught close home in a handicap over the same distance on his only subsequent start.

With stable jockey, Wayne Smith, injured, UK Champion Jockey Richard Hughes comes in for a plum spare ride but the draw in 13 is far from ideal.

Watson saddles Forevertheoptimist, winner of the same race last season when trained by Fawzi Nass. Watson said: “We thought he needed his first run and were pleased enough but he was a bit flat on his other run so we have freshened him up and he seems in good form but the draw is not ideal.”