Strong hand for Watson

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Strong hand for Watson

DOUG WATSON

Ed Marnane: Doug Watson is looking to cement his place at the top of the Dubai trainers’ log at Meydan on Thursday.

Watson soared to the top of the trainers’ table when saddling four winners last weekend, highlighted by winning a pair of Group 3s, the Burj Nahaar and Mahab Al Shimaal at Meydan on Saturday.

Approaching the closing weeks of the season, the American Dubai-based handler is in pole position to win his seventh UAE title and has 15 horses declared across six races at Meydan on Thursday.

The richest race on the card, Race 4, over a 1600m on dirt and restricted to three-year-olds, Anbar and Al Baqar represent Watson.

Stable jockey Pat Dobbs has predictably chosen to ride the lightly raced Anbar, owned by Al Rashid Stables LLC. The form of his third behind Panadol was given a big boost when the winner won the Al Bastikiya (Listed) and cemented his claims as a leading contender for the UAE Derby.

Anbar having just his third run is open to improvement, and he merits obvious respect in a trappy event.

Salem bin Ghadayer saddles the favourite Meshakel, runner-up to Mouheeb in the UAE 2000 Guineas (Group 3), on his latest visit to Meydan last month. He needs to bounce back to form after struggling badly in the $1.5m Saudi Derby on his most recent appearance, trailing in a remote 10th of 12 behind Pink Kamehameha when dropping away tamely after making the early running.

Meshakel, who is clear on the official ratings, will enjoy the drop in class and is fancied to bounce back in first-time blinkers in the hands of new rider Xavier Ziani. The son of Shamardal, who has thrived since leaving Mark Johnston to join bin Ghadayer, is ideally berthed in stall one for a confirmed front-runner, and he could be hard to catch.

Hawa Bilady, trained by Rashed Bouresly, makes a quick reappearance, six days after winning a minor event, over 1200m, at Jebel Ali. By Shanghai Bobby, he took advantage of pace meltdown when coming home strongly to open his account at the fifth time of asking.

On Friday’s evidence, he will relish the step up to 1600m and hails from a yard that remains in good form.

Earlier on the card, the 2000m handicap, Race 3, is a fascinating contest, featuring several unexposed and progressive types. Bright Start, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, is one of three runners representing Godolphin and is fancied to take his Meydan tally to two from just three appearances.

Beaten less than a length by Hypothetical on his latest run, he has made massive strides since switched to dirt and that form was given a major upgrade after the winner chased home Salute The Soldier in Saturday’s Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (Group 1) on his next outing.

Bright Start’s stable companion Real World, representing Godolphin, has been knocking on the door, finishing in the frame in three competitive events, all on dirt at Meydan. He should give a good account on just his fourth lifetime start.

The former John Gosden trained Pharoah King, a winner at Al Ain on his UAE and dirt debut, impressed when following up at Jebel Ali and spearheads Doug Watson’s four-pronged assault in the hands of Pat Dobbs.

He’s vulnerable in a stronger race, especially having to overcome a tough draw in stall No 15.

Satish Seemar’s US import Twelfthofneverland has enjoyed a good campaign, winning twice at Meydan, both on dirt. He’s progress was halted when he could only run fifth behind New Trials, finishing less than four lengths behind the surprise winner.

Stepping down in grade, he has each-way claims. Stable companion Sanad Libya, the mount of Richard Mullen, needs to take step forward to turn the tables with Twelfthofneverland, but has the benefit of a low draw, a bonus in a race that has attracted a full field of 16.

Remorse, Seemar’s third runner, is worthy of a mention. The son of Dubawi, who began his career with Andre Fabre in France, made an encouraging start for new connections at Jebel Ali, staying on nicely in the closing stages to finish an encouraging second over 1600m.

He should strip for the race, while the step up to 2000m will be in his favour.

Book Review, winner of two of his last three races, completes the shortlist in a wide-open looking handicap. Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, he created a big impression on his Meydan debut in January, winning a 2200m handicap when lowering the track with a dominant front-running display.

Racing closes with a 15-runner handicap, run over 1400m on dirt. It’s hard to oppose US import Double Orb on the back of a pleasing comeback behind Twelfthofneverland. Returning from a 434-day, Doug Watson’s five-year-old was caught in the dying strides, just failing to hold off the late burst of Satish Seemar’s gelding.

Double Orb, who has been given plenty to time to get over the race, holds solid claims of going one better.

The opening race, a 1200m maiden on dirt, is a moderate event that won’t take much winning. Lake Causeway has been a bitter disappointment this winter, showing little in three appearances for trainer Satish Seemar. He showed a decent level of ability last season, most notably when a close fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas.

This looks a good opportunity to open his account and he’s worth chancing in a poor maiden returning from a near three-month break.

In the 1900m maiden, thirty-five minutes later, Express Route looks the answer for the in-form Watson/Dobbs combination. Purchased at the Racing in Dubai Sale in September last year, he caught the eye on his UAE debut in a 1200m maiden at Jebel Ali last month.

The Quality Road gelding kept on well in the closing stages to finish second to Vasari, leaving the impression he would improve going up in distance.

 

 

SELECTIONS

Race 1

5 LAKE CAUSEWAY 6 MAJOR CINNAMON 14 COCOBAI 7 SCOTS PINE

Race 2

5 EXPRESS ROUTE 9 KINGDOM OF DUBAI 3 COSMO KRAMER 15 TOLMOUNT

Race 3

1 BRIGHT START 2 REAL WORLD 13 REMORSE 7 TWELFTHOFNEVERLAND

Race 4

5 MESHAKEL 7 ANBAR 3 HAWA BILADY 4 MAYEHAAB

Race 5

2 ALKAAMEL 11 MONOSKI 3 DESERT PEACE 9 TROLIUS

Race 6

1 DOUBLE ORB 8 MAILSHOT 13 CALIFORNIA JUMBO 2 VASARI

 

Best Bet: 1 Bright Start [Race 3]

Best Value: 13 California Jumbo [Race 6]

Best Swinger: 7 Anbar and 3 Hawa Bilady [Race 4]

 

Jackpot

[Races 3 to 6]

R 24

Leg 1: 1, 2, 7, 13

Leg 2: 5

Leg 3: 2, 11

Leg 4: 1, 8, 13

 

 

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