Author: Duane Fonseca
STEAMROLLING THE opposition on Meydan’s six race card last Thursday, Doug Watson might have felt like some kind of anointing was upon him. How else can his historic, unprecedented, 100% success rate be explained? If a trainer were to win like that again within UAE shores, his name would go down in history as well but as the second claimant to the aforesaid record. It’s taken a long time for someone like Watson to achieve that and it might be eons before the feat is repeated, but until then it is only right that the American conditioner enjoys his time in the spotlight. In reality, Watson appears one to shun the spotlight and seems to want to get away from the cameras as quickly as possible, usually making a very brief stop to offer post race spiel before heading to a corner of the patio area near the presentation lawns before walking back up the corridor leading to the saddling area.
The patio was where we caught up with the six time UAE Champion Trainer, who told Al Adiyat titles are nice to have but aren’t worth obsessing over. “I don’t think about them,” said Watson. “The thing is over here for like the last three years we had 40, 50 something winners so all the horses are up in the handicap and you need a bunch of new ones and then you need a bit of luck to get the new ones in to go for the title. “I think we have a nice group for this campaign that can win these races and some came down in the handicap the last season instead of going up. “So the title is a nice thing for the yard and it’s nice for us too, don’t get me wrong, but we don’t dwell on it.
“We had a really nice campaign last time without having a great season and a great season ends when you have a win or two on World Cup night and when you have a few wins in the carnival, so we’ll see what happens.” Nothing tastes better than success and winning races always precedes everything else in racing, but with the start that he’s had so far and his ‘super six’ of Thursday evening, Watson’s yard appears in form going forward. The Red Stables’ boss is no stranger to winning on World Cup night either, having clinched the 2017 renewal of the Group 2 Godolphin Mile with Second Summer winning under his first choice rider Pat Dobbs, who sat aboard five of Watson’s six winners last week.
Twelve months earlier Dobbs was third in that same race on the Dubai World card, aboard Cool Cowboy who chased home his stable companions Faulkner and One Man Band, partnered by Sam Hitchcott and leading home an unforgettable 1-2-3 for the yard. Watson believes he has a fine string of nearly 100 horses to choose from going forward, horses belonging to longtime patrons as well as new owners. “There’s a few new owners with us and we are going to be up to a 100 horses so it’s going to be good,” Watson revealed. “I think it’s still early in the season. I had 13 runners tonight but the quality of racing is a lot higher here.
“We don’t kill them early. All these horses had two more works and I thought our horses ran very well two weeks ago when the season started. I was very pleased with them and then up the hill again at Jebel Ali too, they ran very well. So they’re running well and hopefully we can keep it going. “It was a great effort from them and it was a really nice surprise from Waady. He’s very talented but he never really put it in. It was good to see him pulling away like that when that horse came to him. We are so very happy for him.” While Waady won the night’s feature under Dane O’Neill, Trenchard, newcomer to the yard this season Mulfit, Tried And True, Midnight Sands and debutante Rio Angie all won with Dobbs in the saddle.
Watson was particularly delighted with Honor Code’s 2yo daughter Rio Angie’s four and a quarter length success in the juvenile fillies’ maiden over 1400m. “She has done everything perfectly at home but you never know until they get over here and she was a bit keen there but ran on nicely and should improve for her next race. I think we’ll run her in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial in January and then in the Guineas and Oaks hopefully,” Watson said. Like Rio Angie, Watson has plenty of horses that have either arrived or are on their way to join his yard from the US, with Second Summer’s owner Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi sending quite a few that will be first seen in action during the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
All Out Blitz, Quip and Switzerlandare some of the top names to feature for Sheikh Rashid, while Three Weeks, belonging to another owner has also been entrusted to Watson. “We have a few horses from America that are coming over. They are all carnival horses,” Watson said. “All Out Blitz comes this weekend. He is rated 100 and was placed in a Grade Two at Santa Anita a few months ago. Quip will be like a Godolphin Mile or maybe a World Cup horse. Sheikh Rashid Al Nuaimi just bought him and he’ll go into quarantine and will be here in a month. Quip is a very nice horse and was second to Seeking The Soul in a Grade Two three starts back and it looked like he had a tough season. He’s gonna have a bit of a break at the farm and then he’s going to start training but he’s a top quality horse and he was on the Derby trail during Justify’s year and was owned by the same people so we look forward to it.
“Sheikh Rashid was nice enough to give me Switzerland which I’m looking forward to. He went back to America and they turned him out for about three months and he started training down in quarantine and looks good. “We have another horse called Three Weeks from another owner. He’s a Tapit horse that was running for David O’Meara so there’s a lot of new ones in the yard. There’s a lot of 2yos that we haven’t seen yet, so this is a nice start.” The multi million dollar inaugural Saudi Cup card has caused ripples the world over with its dizzying prize purses and Watson, though excited, says his focus will remain on the DWC Carnival and Dubai World Cup night.
“I’m concentrating on Dubai. I think we will enter a few up. My job is here but if any of the owners want to go then we’ll see,” he said. “It would be a nice place to take Drafted because there isn’t much kickback there and he’s a closing 6f horse who has to stay out of that kickback but other than that I’m concentrating on Dubai. “It’s nice and it’s great that they’re investing in racing and all, but I’ve been here 26 years and I’d rather run in a race here and point one towards the Dubai World Cup than one over there. “It’s a month away from the Dubai World Cup and we have our Super Saturday here and I’m going to support that but if an owner asked me to take one over,then I will.”