Doug Watson Tops Trainers` Championship After Winning Meydan Treble

Photo (The Taj): Cedric Lane (

Exciting Prospects The Taj and Henry Clay Chart Courses for Dubai World Cup Carnival

Trainer Doug Watson has returned to his natural habitat in the new dirt track at Meydan Racecourse and never was this more apparent than when he saddled three workmanlike winners at the track on Thursday evening.

The Taj, Henry Clay and One Man Band achieved promising victories, with Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s The Taj and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Henry Clay seemingly destined for bigger things at the Dubai World Cup Carnival come the New Year.

The Taj was perhaps the most impressive of Watson’s winners when cruising ahead of the field under Dane O’Neill in the Dh140,000 Longines Master Collection handicap over 1200m. Having finished second, over the same 1200m, one month earlier, behind the impressive Genius Step (a non-runner on this occasion), he made no mistake this time.

“We thought he would be hard to beat,” said O’Neill. “He needed that first run and has improved a lot from it. Hopefully he will be very competitive at the Dubai World Cup Carnival as he clearly likes this surface and also has good form on turf.”

Henry Clay, with double-winning Pat Dobbs in the irons, provided the finish of the night when holding off the hard-ridden Tahaamah, trained by Satish Seemar.

“This horse is so tough, said Dobbs. “I have not sat on many as brave as him and, once headed, he really fought back gamely.
“He deserved it, having already been second twice this season.”

Meanwhile One Man Band, owned by Sheikh Saeed Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum shed his maiden tag as a six-length victor over Musabah Al Muhairi’s Silver Galaxy, also for Pat Dobbs.

The three wins boosted Watson ahead of Satish Seemar in the Trainers’ Championship.

“That was a great night,” said Watson. “It’s so nice to be back on the dirt here and to have horses that run up to the standard that you think they can. It’s really exciting that the yard is in such good form.

The American handler, a former UAE champion trainer, who originally came to the emirates as assistant to top US trainer, Kieran McLaughlin, is now campaigning his winners for the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

“We will see how he came out of this race but we would have to look at the Carnival for The Taj,” said Watson. “There is a conditions race on December 18 that he could go in and we will have to see how he goes. Henry Clay is another who is a Carnival possible and his next target will be the Jebel Ali Stakes prep.”

“We were very hopeful with One Man Band,” said Watson. “The wide draw was the main concern but Pat gave him a great ride. It was only his fourth start and second for us so hopefully there is more to come.”

Shaishee was the winner of the evening’s feature race for trainer, Musabah Al Muhairi and represented the first of O’Neill’s two wins on the night.

“We were confident of a big run,” said O’Neill of the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid runner who is now two-for-two on Meydan’s new track. “He was a revelation last year on the dirt at Jebel Ali and clearly relishes this new Meydan surface.

“I was happy to commit early and he ran on well. We think he is still improving.”

The only Purebred Arabian contest, the 1600m Mazrat Al Ruwayah Prep, opened the card and Bigg N Rich repeated his victory of 12 months ago, albeit on a different surface.

Wayne Smith was in the saddle and the pair tracked Shateh and Silvestre De Sousa who came under pressure early in the straight with Smith still sat motionless.

He asked his mount to challenge soon after with the pair hitting the front with 300m to run. De Sousa’s mount fought back but to no avail.

“I thought I would win on him at Al Ain two weeks ago,” said Smith. “However, he just seemed to tire in the closing stages. I was always going well and it was a decent effort.”

The meeting concluded with a 1600m handicap for which a full field of 16 went to post. Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea landed the spoils for trainer Satish Seemar aboard Filfil.