Issue 750

10 ISSUE 750 - THURSDAY 20 JANUARY 2022 DECEMBER AND JANUARY are particularly cold months in the UAE, but Doug Watson might have really felt the chill at Meydan after being frozen out of its winners’ enclosure for over a month. It’s unusual for Watson to be left out in the cold at Meydan, but ever since Mubakker landed the feature as part of a double on the 9 December card, the American was forced to watch from the sidelines as virtually every other trainer helped himself on the programme at Dubai’s landmark racing venue. But as the international window opened with the inaugural night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival last Friday, the ice started to thaw. Ending a strange period for Watson was Golden Goal, who sensationally scored in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1. And having found the spark that reignited his title defence, the Red Stables supremo made a trip to the podium the following day at Jebel Ali after Mayaadeen nicked the 1400m handicap from the mouth of Sadeedd. Golden Goal’s success is the one likely to go the distance for Watson as it came at the cost of Secret Ambition, who thumped him by six lengths in last year’s Group 2 Godolphin Mile. Sam Hitchcott delivered a peach of a ride aboard the 8yo Dark Angel gelding, who hugged the rail after leaping out of stall one, keeping Secret Ambition on edge all along and running on in the straight for a deserving victory by a length and a half. It was a third success for Watson in the race and he was impressed but will now give Golden Goal the seven week break that should get him fresh for the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, Super Saturday’s course and distance equivalent of the Godolphin Mile. “We are very, very happy for Golden Goal and his owner Dale Brennan after he ran his heart out on Friday,” Watson told Al Adiyat after his trophy presentation at Jebel Ali on Saturday. “It looks like we’ll wait for Super Saturday to next run Golden Goal. He ran a hard race and the next mile race (the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes) is in three weeks, which will be a bit tough on him after winning the Al Maktoum Challenge, so we’ll go for the Burj Nahaar and then the Godolphin Mile.” Watson was all praise for second choice rider Hitchcott, who partnered Golden Goal in the Godolphin Mile. “It was a good ride from Sam too,” Watson added. “They drew one and he kept Secret Ambition under pressure a little bit. Secret Ambition will come on for that run but it was nice to get the win and we’ll go to the Godolphin Mile again and give the owner every chance of winning that.” Watson saddled two others in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1 and speaking of Thegreatcollection and Midnight Sands, who finished fourth and tenth respectively, Watson looking to keep it elementary after returning to winning ways at Meydan INTERVIEW: DOUG WATSON Golden Goal