American head trainer at Red Stables seven horses entered across six races in the the season-opening seven-race card
Doug Watson begins bid for seventh UAE trainers title at Jebel Ali
Doug Watson may be a 25-year veteran of UAE racing, but the head trainer at Red Stables is as excited as ever for the start of the new season, which begins on Friday.
Watson first arrived in the UAE as assistant to Kiaran McLaughlin before taking charge of the Red Stables in 2004. The American has enjoyed tremendous success, winning six UAE trainers’ titles and will now begin his bid for a seventh, with seven horses entered across six races in the seven-race card at Jebel Ali.
Watson has more than 100 horses in training, so has the resources to win another title, but for now he is just looking forward to getting started.
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“We have a few exciting and a few unknown ones from the purchases out of the April and September Sales, and there are the older ones to complement,” Watson said.
The Shadwell Handicap, for horses rated 85-105 and run over the 1,400-metre trip, is the most valuable race of the evening, and Watson has two entries with Cosmo Charlie and Dream Dubai.
Cosmo Charlie, ridden by the stable’s first jockey Pat Dobbs, is a course and distance winner who landed the Dh250,000 Jebel Ali Classic in the season-ending meeting on March 23.
Cosmo Charlie is a winner in four of his 11 career starts, including the Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday at Meydan in 2017.
Dream Dubai, meanwhile, is making his dirt debut after being unsuccessful in six starts in the UAE.
“There are no turf races for Dream Dubai at the moment,” Watson said. “With him training so well, this looked a good opportunity to try him at Jebel Ali.
“Cosmo Charlie won there at the end of last season, over this course and distance, so it should go well, but it is their first race of the campaign, so we see how fit they actually are.”
Nicholas Blanchard, the new trainer at Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid’s Jebel Ali Stables, also has two entries in the race with Haalick and Sholaan, who was runner-up to Cosmo Charlie in his last start.
“I am really looking forward to having my first runners from Jebel Ali Stables and have four on the day,” said the Frenchman, who arrived after a spell in Saudi Arabia.
“We are hoping they are all fit, but expect them to improve throughout the season, so it will be interesting to see how they run.
“Both Haalick and Sholaan have been pleasing us and with luck should go well in what looks like a hot race.”
The Jebel Ali stable rider Chris Hayes will be atop Haalick, while Sholaan will be ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, the UAE champion jockey who has joined the Zabeel Stables of trainer Satish Seemar.
“Sholaan looks a very nice spare ride and I was delighted to be asked,” O’Shea said. “He goes particularly well at Jebel Ali and it is always an honour to ride for Sheikh Ahmed, especially on his own course.”
Blanchard’s other entries are Yabrave and Tobrave, both making their local debuts and running in the third and seventh races respectively.