DUBAI // Doug Watson suggested before the start of this season that several of his horses that had not settled into desert life last year could come good this time. Many of Watson's early-season winners did just that. And as far as horses finding form on their second UAE campaign goes, Barbecue Eddie in today's feature, the Dh120,000 Shadwell Stables Conditions race over six furlongs, could well prove to be the icing on the cake for Watson.
As the sport of kings returns to Jebel Ali after the Eid break, Watson, who, along with owner Malih al Basti, claimed four winners at the last meeting, finds that his runners once again dominate the card. The Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid-owned five-year-old Barbecue Eddie did nothing wrong when coming fourth to Bennie the Bull in the 2008 Group One Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night, but did not live up to his own high standards when a full-time Dubai resident in the 2008/09 season.
Sheikh Hamdan's jockey, Tadhg O'Shea, has opted for the son of Stormy Atlantic over the owner's other entrant, the Erwan Charpy-trained Tawaassol. That runner is no forlorn hope either, having come third on his own seasonal debut over a furlong shorter at the final Jebel Ali meet before Eid. Pat Smullen takes that ride. Watson also saddles last season's Godolphin Mile runner, Green Coast, under Daragh O'Donohoe.
Ted Durcan is back for his first meeting of the season. His successful summer in the United Kingdom was crowned by his victory aboard Godolphin's Mastery in the Group One St Leger, and he rides Terrific Challenge in the feature today. Trained by Satish Seemar and owned by Zabeel Racing International, the seven-year-old won a Group Three over the race distance at Nad al Sheba in 2007 and a handicap back in December 2008, but his form in between has been intermittent.
In demand young jockey, William Buick, in his second winter with Jebel Ali-based Dhruba Selvaratnam, trainer to Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, rides Borehan. The pair, who scored with Otaared a fortnight ago, are giving the horse his second start of the season. He was second last time out over a furlong shorter, but Buick believes his ride, who is coming back from a lengthy lay-off this season, may have a little to find.