A FURTHER 20 races into the new season so the championships are starting to take shape and a second consecutive Jebel Ali treble for Doug Watson propelled him to the top of the trainers’ table on Friday. He had no runners at either Al Ain or Abu Dhabi so finished the weekend on seven but still leads the way. His lead is a narrow one mind you, a solitary winner more than both fellow former Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel, as well as Salem bin Ghadayer. Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and Abdallah Al Hammadi complete the top five. With Pat Dobbs sadly absent injured, but thankfully back this week, Sam Hitchcott was the beneficiary of the Watson treble, doubling his seasonal tally and he too finished Friday atop his table, obviously in his case the jockeys’ one.
And, like his Red Stables’ boss, he finished the round of fixtures top of the tree with a lead of one, reigning and former champions Tadhg O’Shea and Richard Mullen hot on his ‘jockey silk tails’. When you see Oertel and O’Shea flying high you automatically assume owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda will also be doing so: six winners in his silks is two more than a ‘mini plethora’ of others, namely Al Ajban Stables, Yas Racing, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd and Mohd Khalifa Al Basti. Twenty races when last weekend was a busy one but ‘just’ 14 this upcoming one, evenly divided between the Thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians.