Monday, 21 March, 2016

Freshly confirmed as UAE champion trainer for a fourth time, American-born Doug Watson has not only enjoyed a magnificent domestic season with a personal best of 56 winners, but also an excellent Dubai World Cup Carnival campaign.

Watson has saddled nine winners at the international extravaganza since it started in January, more than any other trainer bar Godolphin stalwart Saeed bin Suroor.

Therefore it is probably not surprising that Watson and his Red Stables operation head into Saturday’s Dubai World Cup meeting with genuine chances in at least two races.

Prior to this season, Watson had not saddled a Classic winner but along came Polar River (USA) to remedy that.

She has won both the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks and would be completing a rare triple crown achievement heading into Saturday’s UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group.

Godolphin’s Khawlah beat the boys in the 2011 UAE Derby, the only filly to have won the race so far, but she did not contest the UAE 1000 Guineas.

Unbeaten after four starts, Polar River won the first three, culminating in the UAE 1000 Guineas, by a combined 31 lengths.

The Oaks was not to be won so easily; seemingly in total command under Pat Dobbs when she hit the front 300m out, she finally passed the line just three-parts of a length ahead of Vale Dori.

Watson was not perturbed and explained: “Her preparation was a bit interrupted going into the Oaks.

“She had not been eating as you would like and had a tooth removed. Pat gave her as easy a race as he could with Saturday in mind. She is in great form now and should run a massive race.”

The Watson equine squad also includes a strong trio in the Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha. Dobbs looks set to ride Cool Cowboy (USA) with One Man Band (Ire) under Sam Hitchcott and Faulkner (GB) under Dane O’Neill completing the line-up.

“It is a great position to be in,” said Watson. “All three of them should have a good chance.

“Cool Cowboy has excelled since we stepped him up in trip and is very versatile tactically. He does not mind the kickback but is also happy ridden positively.

“One Man Band likes to get on with things and Faulkner, after an interrupted early preparation, is as well as we have had him all season.”

He also saddles Candy Boy (USA) in the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates, the horse’s first start since finishing fourth in the same race last year on his debut for the yard.

After the season Watson has enjoyed, who could rule out a miraculous training performance and Candy Boy surprising some of the bigger names.

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Polar River (right) on her way to another impressive victory at Meydan
Credit: Neville Hopwood

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