x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

Doug Watson hails 'impressive' Rayya as she dazzles under Meydan lights

Rayya caught the eye as a classic prospect after romping to victory by nearly 10 lengths on her Meydan Racecourse debut in the Fillies Maiden

Pat Dobbs on-board Rayya wins the Property Weekly Maiden at Meydan Racecourse for trainer Doug Watson. Andrew Watkins / Dubai Racing Club
Pat Dobbs on-board Rayya wins the Property Weekly Maiden at Meydan Racecourse for trainer Doug Watson. Andrew Watkins / Dubai Racing Club

Rayya caught the eye as a classic prospect after romping to victory by nearly 10 lengths on her Meydan Racecourse debut in the Fillies Maiden, the opening event of the seven-race card on Thursday.

Pat Dobbs broke quickly out of the gate and raced the two-year-old chestnut daughter of Tiz Wonderful in front. The further they went, the stronger she got to finish a considerable distance ahead of her rivals in the 1,400-metre race.

“She’s still growing and I would like to give her six weeks because she’s going to have a hard schedule as she progresses,” said her handler Doug Watson when asked if he would consider the filly as a UAE 1000 Guineas contender.

“She had a great education here. She handled everything beautifully," although Watson added "she’s going to be taking on better horses next time.

“It was a great start for her tonight, though. She came in, she did everything right and trained well up to this. You never know until you get here and under the lights. She was impressive.

“We got a few more two year olds and we weren’t lucky with a couple of them and another couple of them haven’t made it to the racetrack. At the moment she is the best of the bunch.

“We have a couple of smart colts coming down from England. They have some good form behind them and we are hopeful.”

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Watson notched up a treble on the night with Moosir and Galvanize completing back-to-back victories for the UAE champion trainer in the fourth and fifth races respectively.

Dane O’Neill, the retained jockey of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, steered Moosir to win from stable companion Say No More under Sam Hitchcott.

Hitchcott wasn’t to be denied for long though. In the next race onboard Galvanize, jockey and horse stayed on strongly to edge Direct Message ridden by Tadhg O’Shea to take Watson’s tally to 16 wins for the season.

“He’s a horse that keeps improving,” said Hitchcott of the four-year-old Galvanize’s second win in four weeks.

“He’s very versatile. He can go forward and make the running and he is a horse who actually does face the kick-back [on the dirt] as well.”

Connor Beasley took the third race on the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Chess Master for his first winner at Meydan and his sixth overall in his debut season in the Emirates.

Pat Cosgrave, the leading jockey, put one across the board for his 14th victory of the campaign after winning the penultimate race atop the Satish Seemar-trained Secret Ambition.

RB Torch under O’Shea made every yard of the running to take the Group 2 Baniyas, the first race for Purebred Arabians at Meydan this season.

It was the six-year-old chestnut son of TH Richie’s second win from as many starts this season and his handler Eric Lemartinel has the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 in January as his next target.