SHARJAH // Doug Watson's Gulf of Gold made it two wins from two starts this season after romping to victory in Sharjah Racecourse's Dh65,000 Thoroughbred feature yesterday.
Watson also won the final race, the Dh45,000 Arabian handicap, with Fantastique MHF for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, bringing his winning tally to five.
A six-minute delay while the course ambulance was moved into position caused Gulf of Gold's jockey, Tadhg O'Shea to worry as his excitable charge circled behind the gates with the rest of the field before the second race got under way.
Watson won with Gulf of Gold over 1,600m at Jebel Ali on November 5. The horse stepped up another 400m to 2,000m yesterday.
"He did exactly what I was hoping he would do," said the trainer. "He's been in great form all year. I did consider giving him another run up the hill [at Jebel Ali], but he won well here last year. We will try and find another race for him."
Erwan Charpy's Contretemps was second, with apprentice Harry Bentley in the irons.
Watson's other main hope for victory, the Arabian Quite A Show, obviously did not read the script before the 2,000m Arabian feature. Instead, spectators were treated to the best finish of the day courtesy of Gillian Duffield's Estiqraar and Anthony Manuel's Knife.
Knife jumped well and took an early lead with his jockey, Jesus Rosales, attempting to run the legs off the rest of the field. Once round the final bend Rosales's ploy appeared to have paid off until Estiqraar forged alongside and the tussle for the lead came down to a photo at the finish.
Duffield's charge, ridden by Rory Cleary, was given the win by a nostril. Knife, stepping up from his winning run over 1,700m at Sharjah a week ago, lost nothing at all in second place. The Musabah al Muhairi-trained Bareq was third.
"He needed that run at Meydan," said Duffield, whose horse was sixth on the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse's opening meet of the season. "It's made all the difference to him."
Duffield, who was opening her seasonal account with the victory, said she was hoping for more.
"It's always good to get the first win of the season out of the way," she said. "The horses have all needed a bit of a run this season, but they are coming good now. Their coats are looking great and hopefully we will get a few more wins under the belt."