Watson holds another strong hand on cracking Meydan card

Final race night of 2016 features eight contests

• Tickets available from Meydan Ticket Sales Office.
• First race 6:30pm

The final UAE meeting of 2016 will be staged at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night with a bumper eight race card.

This meeting is highlighted by the EGA Excellence Trophy, a 1400m handicap with a prize fund of AED190,000.

Champion Trainer Doug Watson saddled an amazing five winners at the last Meydan Racecourse meeting and has plenty of good chances this week.

In the feature he saddles two for owner Mohd Khalifa Al Basti: Desert Force, the choice of Pat Dobbs and Sam Hitchcott’s mount, Winslow.

The latter will be making his local and dirt debut whereas Dobbs’ mount was a very easy winner on his second start in the UAE, a handicap over the same 1400m course and distance as Thursday’s race.

“They are two nice horses and we are very happy with both,” said Watson. “Winslow is working nicely and Desert Force seems in the same kind of form as when he won at the start of the month.

“Both should run well and the owner is enjoying a good run at the moment; he actually leads the Thoroughbred table at the moment with ten winners.”
Also doubly represented is Satish Seemar with Speedy Move and UAE debutante Riflescope.

Interestingly Stable jockey Richard Mullen has chosen the latter over Speedy Move, a winner on his first start locally at Jebel Ali in March.

Riflescope meanwhile has two career wins, both in England for Mark Johnston and each win coming over 1000m. This will be the longest trip he has attempted.

Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “Both are in good form and should run well.

“Riflescope is a nice new horse and we were keen to try him at Meydan on the dirt to see how he handles it.

“Speedy Move has had a good break having run very well first time this season but less so a fortnight later on his second outing, so we have freshened him up.”

Godolphin and Charlie Appleby combine with Comicas, the mount of Colm O’Donoghue.

The three year old is unraced on dirt and since May after his one run in England last season. He has since been gelded.

Both his victories have been registered over 1400m, including in last season’s Meydan Classic Trial on turf.

“We gelded him after he ran at Ascot in May,” said Appleby, speaking from England and on his way to the airport to return to Dubai. “He works nicely on dirt and his pedigree suggests it will suit him so we have to hope for a good run.”

South African Mike de Kock saddles Alareef for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

A two-time winner on the Meydan dirt last season, including once over this 1400m, he is definitely one to watch out for in a wide open race.

“He is proven under these conditions and is ready for a run,” said the trainer. “He will improve for the outing but should be straight enough to do himself justice.”

Appleby and Watson are also represented in a fascinating 1400m conditions contest for two-year-olds, the EGA Al Taweelah Alumina Trophy.

Watson introduces debutante Complimenti who looks to have a plum draw in stall one under Sam Hitchcott.

“She is a nice filly and gets plenty of weight from the previous winners,” said Watson. “We were pleased with the draw and will find out how good she could be.”

Appleby saddles two with Fly At Dawn, giving weight to all his seven rivals under O’Donoghue and Dane O’Neill aboard Van Der Decken.

“Neither have raced on dirt but both work nicely on it so, hopefully, that is not an issue,” said Appleby. “Fly At Dawn has a penalty but is a nice type, while the soft ground did not suit Van Der Decken on his last start.”

Dhruba Selvaratnam’s local debutant, Call To War, won his only start in America and will be sporting the predominantly yellow silks of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum under Chris Hayes.

“He is a nice, new horse,” said Selvaratnam. “He will probably need the run but this looks a good race to get him back on the track having been off since June.”

The first UAE meeting of 2017 is the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, back at Meydan next Thursday.