Red Stables trainer, Doug Watson looks set to mount a strong local charge on the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival next week having seen out 2016 with four victories at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening.
His charges provided a winning treble for stable jockey, Pat Dobbs and a closing victory for the 2016 Godolphin Mile winning jockey, Sam Hitchott.
The team from Red Stables didn’t quite have it all their own way however with juvenile charges from the Godolphin racing operation dominating the opening races of the Emirates Global Aluminium-sponsored meeting.
All trained by Al Marmoon-based Charlie Appleby, the three Godolphin winners provided a double for jockey, Colm O’Donoghue and a victory for Dane O’Neill.
The meeting was highlighted by the AED190,000 EGA Excellence Trophy Handicap over 1400m and while on paper it looked ultra-competitive, in reality it was a one horse race with Dobbs and the Watson-trained Desert Force never headed.
Victorious by seven lengths on his previous start over the same course and distance he improved on that margin, crossing the line seven and three-quarter lengths clear, under a motionless Dobbs.
“I rode this horse in England and he was always a very nice type,” said Dobbs. “He perhaps did not achieve what was hoped for in England but seems to be thriving now.
“He has a great attitude and plenty of early speed but also stays this trip nicely. If he stays 1600m he could hopefully progress into a Dubai World Cup night horse.
“He is tough and honest and hopefully there is more to come but after this performance I would imagine handicaps are off the agenda.”
It was a rapid double for trainer and jockey who had combined to land the preceding 1200m handicap, the EGA Jebel Ali Trophy.
A third win of the season for Mathematics it was a first at this shorter trip.
“We had a great draw in stall one and Pat gave him a great ride to utilise it,” said Watson.
Dobbs produced the ride of the night when Dehbashi made it three for the trainer-jockey combination, recording a hard fought victory in the EGA Guinea Trophy, a 2200m handicap, which looked far from likely until the final 100m.
Seemingly struggling 700m out, Dobbs’ got to work on his mount and Dehbashi dug deep, picking up tellingly in the final 100m to lead in the closing stages.
“He was never on the bridle,” said Dobbs. “It was only his third ever start and he was not sure about the kickback early on. At the top of the straight I thought we might get placed but then he really picked up and won nicely in the end.”
Watson finished off the meeting with closing-race victory when Hitchcott piloted the game Sheeba to a facile eight-and-a-half length victory in the 1600m EGA Al Taweelah Trophy handicap.
Zabeel Stables trainer, Satish Seemar did not leave without a winner and his progressive North America put together a performance in the 1600m EGA Potlines Trophy, that was reminiscent to that of Desert Force earlier.
Ridden by stable jockey, Richard Mullen North America was soon in front and never looked in any danger throughout the final 400m.
“He is a smashing horse who keeps surprising me,” said Mullen. “I actually chose not to ride him when he won his maiden and he has improved again from that success.
“I guess he is a horse who saves his best for race night and hopefully he is a Dubai World Cup Carnival horse.”
The early part of the meeting was monopolised by Godolphin.
Twelve went to post in the opening 1400m maiden, the EGA Casthouse Trophy but, in reality very few were ever involved.
Dobbs tried to make all on debutant Bee Jersey for Watson but Godolphin’s Capezzano was able to make it third time lucky under O’Donoghue.
Trainer Appleby said: “Colm rode him last time when he lost his chance at the start but the horse learned a lot with that experience.
“I will talk to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and plan from there but I do not think we will run in the 2000 Guineas Trial.
“We could go for the Guineas itself or perhaps even wait for the Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday.”
There was a distinct feeling of déjà vu after the following EGA Al Taweelah Alumina Trophy, a 1400m two-year-old conditions race.
Hitchcott rode for Watson aboard plucky debutante Complimenti but that filly was unable to make all and her bid for the line was thwarted by the persistent challenge of the Appleby-trained Fly At Dawn under O’Donoghue.
Yet the lead was contested again by stablemate, Van Der Decken produced fast and late by Dane O’Neill to land the spoils and provide both owner and trainer with a 1-2.
“They went pretty fast early on,” said Appleby. “Ultimately that worked in Van Der Decken’s favour and Dane gave him a great ride.
“We thought both horses would run well, and they have, but I think the penalty carried by Fly At Dawn cost him. Hopefully there is more to come from both of them. It has been a great start to the evening.”
It was Godolphin and Appleby again in the following EGA Billets Trophy, a 1600m maiden, with O’Donoghue completing a double aboard debutant Somerset House.
Never far off the early pace, O’Donoghue sent his mount for home 300m out and the race was soon over.
“We were drawn wide enough but I was able to get in a good position,” said O’Donoghue. “He did it well in the end but is a big baby and can only improve from this.”
The 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival gets underway at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday January 5, 2017.
With prize money hitting the region of US$1m at every Carnival meeting, the races attract some of the best race horses from around the world.
Source: Dubai Racing Club