Drafted Leads Trio Of Garhoud Sprint Possibles For Watson

DRC Notes Vol. 42 | Dubai Racing Club News & Features | November 26, 2019

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Trainer Doug Watson, who currently leads UAE standings one month into the 2019-20 season with 10 victories ($349,139) and a 17% strike rate, could have as many as three starters for the first Listed Thoroughbred stakes of the season, the Garhoud Sprint. Led by stable star and local king of the dirt sprinters, Drafted, the triad of possibles is completed by a pair owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum: Waady and Ekhtiyaar.

Rated at 111, Drafted has been a force over the past year, reeling off exciting late-closing victories in the 2018 Garhoud Sprint (Listed), Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) and Super Saturday’s Mahaab Al Shimaal (G3). His only blemish was second to Raven’s Corner in the Dubawi (G3) on opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival. He was last seen closing impressively to finish fifth, beaten 4¼ lengths by some of the top sprinters in the world in the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) on Dubai World Cup night.

“I’m really looking forward to running him,” Watson said. “He did nothing wrong last season and you don’t see many horses close from where he does and win those sprint races. His race on (Dubai) World Cup night was very good against some top sprinters.

“He’s put on some muscle (over the summer),” he continued. “He’ll point toward the Garhoud and Carnival again and hopefully he’s improved.”

Owned by Misty Hollow Farm, the former Eoin Harty trainee (and Royal Ascot also-ran at two) has five Meydan wins since being purchased for just under $11,000 at the Racing in Dubai Sale in 2017. His class was given an additional boost after two of the four horses who finished ahead of him in the Shaheen, Imperial Hint (third) and Promises Fulfilled (fourth), went on to win Grade 1 and Grade 2 races in America.

Wearing the Shadwell blue and white will possibly be Waady and Ekhtiyaar, who each have shown impressive turf form, but only Waady has transferred that to the dirt, when winning over Pop the Hood impressively on Nov. 21 at Meydan. Said victory was also over the Garhoud and Shaheen’s 1200m distance. Previously, the 7-year-old son of Approve chased some of the top turf sprinters in the UAE and Europe, including Ertijaal, Limato and Kachy.

Ekhtiyaar (pictured above), on the other hand, has yet to try the sandier surface in a race, but has trained well over it at Red Stables. He has four races at Meydan since joining the UAE ranks, including a DWC Carnival win over 1200m on turf and a good second to Blue Point in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3) on Super Saturday. Watson considers him 50-50 to make the Garhoud Sprint. Last out, the 5-year-old son of Bated Breath was ninth in the $2 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1) astern the same luminary.

“He trains well over it,” Watson said. “He’s not certain to go in there, but it would be good to get a race into him and try it before the Carnival.”

Watson also added that Group 3-winning miler Kimbear is aiming toward the Dubai Creek Mile (Listed) on Dec. 19. Thegreatcollection may also be possible for the 1600m contest.

“Kimbear is back and training well, but he always has,” Watson said. “He had foot issues all last season, which didn’t help him. He will point to the Dubai Creek Mile and hopefully we can get him back to his best. I’ve always really liked him.”

Owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the 5-year-old ran fourth in the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile (G2) in March. Zaur Sekrekov’s Thegreatcollection exits a comeback fourth in last Thursday’s Meydan feature and was third last year in the Dubai Creek Mile.

NEW TRAILS STARTS PATH BACK TO DWC

Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) alumnus New Trails is on the comeback trail, according to trainer Ahmad bin Harmash. Unraced since finishing 10th in said $12 million centrepiece, the sizable son of Medaglia d’Oro is pointing toward a return in The Entisar (Listed) on Dec. 5 at Meydan.

“He will run over the 2000m in (The Entisar) and is doing very well,” Bin Harmash said. “Last year we started with him on the lower side and worked our way through handicaps and Listed races because we knew he was very talented, but still improving. He was a handicap horse last year and he raced and trained a lot until the big day.

“This year, we are taking a totally different approach, as he is already rated 109 and we can get started in the Listed race and not rush him,” he explained. “From there, we will stay long with him, going to the (Group 2 $450,000) Al Maktoum Challenge) Round 2 (on Feb. 6) and then (Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge) Round 3 on Super Saturday (Mar. 7). I think he is a very good horse. We’re going to see how much he has improved this year.”

A winner on opening night of the Meydan season on Nov. 1 last year, the half-brother to G1 winner Tizaqueena went on to win a DWC Carnival handicap, while also placing in The Entisar behind Cosmo Charlie and Round 2 behind North America before finishing fourth in Round 3 behind Capezzano.

Owned by Hamdan Sultan Ali Alsabousi, the bay 5-year-old gelding has a record of 3-3-0 from just nine starts. While he started six times last season, he had three prior in France with Andre Fabre under the Godolphin banner. Always a well-intended type, he won on debut over soft going at Saint-Cloud in Nov. 2016 before finishing second in the Prix Magister (Conditions) and sixth in the Prix des Orfevres (Conditions) over the same course.

SHEEMA-PLACED SUAVE RICHARD SMOOTH IN JAPAN CUP

Franking the form of the Group 1 $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, NICKS Co Ltd’s Suave Richard was an impressive winner of the G1 $5.6 million Japan Cup in Association with Longines (Deep Impact Memorial) on Sunday. Ridden to perfection by DWC Carnival regular Oisin Murphy, the son of 2006 Sheema winner Heart’s Cry relished the yielding course and rode the rail to victory. Earlier this season, he was a fine third in the Sheema astern Old Persian and Cheval Grand for trainer Yasushi Shono.

“The Japan Cup is one of the world’s most importation races and I’m thrilled for the opportunity and thankful for everyone who made it possible,” Murphy said. “I could have pushed (eventual runner-up) Curren Bouquetd’or out, but (the inside path) was always going to open, as the leader was getting tired.

“Japanese horses are becoming the best in the world and this is a great race to showcase them,” he continued. “The atmosphere here was fantastic. I’d love for this continue and come to Japan every year and I hope you can do lots of cheering for me. I always do my best.”

Fellow Sheema runners Cheval Grand and Rey de Oro checked in ninth and 11th. No future plans have been rendered for the winner, but a return to Dubai would conceivably be on the table if he stays in training in 2020.