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Watson on Right Track to Glory

Photo: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins - Pat Dobbs on Candy Boy

Three-time Champion Trainer in the UAE since taking over at Red Stables from compatriot Kiaran McLaughlin in 1993, American Doug Watson was narrowly denied a fourth title this season as he finished four behind Musabah Al Muhairi.

The destiny of the title was only decided at Jebel Ali last Friday when, after the first race, the gap was cut to just two winners.
However, it has been a fantastic season for the amiable handler with his 41 winners contributing to his season’s earnings of Dh6,213,888 – virtually the exact amount as his runners amassed in the previous two seasons, combined.

The reason for this is obvious – Watson has enjoyed a phenomenal Dubai World Cup Carnival, saddling six winners with 15 of his other 31 runners collecting a cheque.

He also won three of the ‘non-Carnival’ races on the big nights, including with Layl, who progressed through the ranks and is now his hopeful for Saturday’s Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Meydan Sobha.

In fact, of his seasonal haul, 22 of his winners were at Meydan, more than any other trainer and four clear of his closest pursuer, Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor (whose 18 were all achieved at the Dubai World Cup Carnival).

Six wins at Sharjah was more than any other handler, while 11 at Jebel Ali was bettered only by Al Muhairi’s 15.

The main contributing factor for such a great campaign is surely Meydan’s decision to rip up the all-weather and install a traditional dirt surface.

With 18 runners at Abu Dhabi failing to win on the turf, Watson’s only success this season on the green stuff was that of Limario in a handicap over 1800m.

Limario will take his chance in Saturday’s Group 1 Dubai Turf, sponsored by DP World.

Watson is actually set to saddle six runners on Saturday, including local debutant Candy Boy in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates and Cool Cowboy in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News.

Both races are, of course, on dirt.

“It has been a really good season,” said Watson. “When it was announced Meydan were to put down a dirt track I could not have been happier. I train on dirt and my horses traditionally ran well on it.

“We did not have such a good record on the all-weather but the majority of our horses have really taken to the new surface.

“It is not just me of course. It is a real team effort and everyone has contributed and worked really hard. Luckily we have seen the rewards for that effort this season.

“Pat Dobbs has been riding really well and Sam Hitchcott has also contributed in the saddle when the chances have allowed.”

Watson went on: “I am really looking forward to Saturday, as is the whole team. It is a great achievement to get six horses to the big night and we think we have a few decent each-way chances.

“Layl does not have the best of draws in the Godolphin Mile for a 1600m dirt contest where the stats are very much against him. I just hope Cool Cowboy fares better when the gates are announced for the Golden Shaheen.

My father and my sister are coming over this year so, hopefully, it will be a great evening and they can help ease my nerves.”