04 December 2015

Polar River Kick-Starts Watson Hot Streak in Meydan Four Timer

Two-Year-Old Filly Runs Close to Secret Circle’s Golden Shaheen Record

Trainer Doug Watson enjoyed a great Thursday night at Meydan Racecourse, saddling four winners including exciting two-year-old prospect, Polar River and feature-race victor, One Man Band.

Polar River who was ridden by double-winning jockey Sam Hitchcott, was trailing the leaders slightly after the start of the 1200m Longines Conquest Classic Ladies Maiden from her plum draw in one.

However the two-year-old filly was soon prominent and held a clear advantage turning into the straight and from there just carried on lengthening her stride.

Polar River continued extending her lead finally crossing the line over 13.5 lengths ahead of her closest pursuer in a time that was just two hundredths of a second outside the 1:10.63 course record set by Secret Circle in the 2015 Dubai Golden Shaheen.

“She is very useful,” said Hitchcott. “It was a very good performance, especially first time out.

“It would be nice to think she will build on this and hopefully she is a filly with a big future.”

In the featured Longines Master Collection Watson saddled half of the field of six. Many expected the previously unbeaten Faulkner, returning to the track after 329 days away, to land the spoils yet that was not to be. Instead stable companion, One Man Band hit the highest note landing a second consecutive win and a double on the night for jockey, Hitchcott. Faulkner, who could only run fourth, was later to found to have pulled up lame in his left foreleg.

A course and distance winner a fortnight ago, Hitchcott’s mount was actually registering a fourth victory at Meydan having also won a maiden over 1900m last season as well as another 1600m handicap.

Soon taken to the front by Hitchcott, One Man Band put his rivals to the sword from about halfway; increasing the tempo and quickening clear on the home bend.

They crossed the line seven lengths clear and set a track record of 1:35.68 in doing so.

“The track has been riding quick as the times prove,” said Hitchcott. “The Watson horses have been running well and it has been a great team effort all season.

“One Man Band goes well round here and had the benefit of race fitness but I am sure Faulkner has more to offer in the future.

About Falkner, Watson added: “He really needed that run, probably more so than we thought. Fingers crossed all is well and, hopefully, he can have a good 2016.”

Having ridden two consecutive winners on the card, Hitchcott’s purple patch ended with the 2000m handicap but Watson carried on in relentless form.

This time it was Dane O’Neill in the saddle, for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and victorious aboard Jeeraan in a 2000m handicap.

Well beaten on his seasonal return, over the same course and distance four weeks ago, Jeeraan bounced back in no uncertain terms here.

“He needed the first run,” said O’Neill. “We knew he was better than that and he has proved it here.

“Doug has his team in great form and Jeeraan has won nicely here.”

The Watson bandwagon maintained momentum with Famous Warrior who, under Pat Dobbs, led virtually all the way in a 1400m handicap.

“It has been a truly great evening,” said Watson. “We knew we had some decent chances but you can never be too confident.

“Famous Warrior was actually a Dubai World Cup Carnival winner for me in the past and continues to try his best. Everything went right here and it is great for his current owners, the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC) who have plenty of members here and gave him an amazing reception.”

A Watson clean sweep in the five Thoroughbred races was denied in the finale when his local debutant, Padlock, under Dobbs, was second to Can You Conga.

It was a first UAE winner for jockey David Probert with trainer Mohd Ramadan, opening his account for the season and at Meydan, pushing the EERC close for the accolade of ‘most enthusiastic cheering and greeting of a winner’ prize on the night.

To begin proceedings, the Purebred Arabians made a welcome return to Meydan with nine going to post for the opening Mazrat Al Ruwayah Prep, a 1600m conditions contest.

For the second year running, trainer Eric Lemartinel and jockey Wayne Smith combined to land the spoils, on this occasion with the progressive RB Torch.

After this victory, Smith’s mount boasts the impressive career record of four wins from just six starts, winning both his dirt outings in the process.

For good measure, they also set a track record for Purebred Arabians over the mile of 1:47.87.

Now the master of Al Asayl stables and, thus, training predominantly for RB Torch’s owner, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Lemartinel won this race 12 months ago with Bigg N Rich, subsequent winner of the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 over the same 1600m course and distance.

Now with Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Bigg N Rich was well beaten in sixth this year.

Settled off the speed, Smith asked his mount for an effort early in the straight with the response both striking and victorious.

“Eric asked me to ride him about a week ago,” said Smith. “He was spot on and predicted we would hit a flat spot but would then run home strongly once we hit the straight.

“And that is actually what happened.”