Colour Up revives Watson's big race ambitions with impressive Meydan romp

Zabeel Stables duo Seemar and O’Shea dominate nine-race card with three wins

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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Colour Up (R) win the Al Garhoud Sprint from Leading Spirit (2nd R) and  Saleymm (2nd from L) at Meydan on Friday, Dec 8. - Photo by Dubai Racing Club
Colour Up (R) win the Al Garhoud Sprint from Leading Spirit (2nd R) and Saleymm (2nd from L) at Meydan on Friday, Dec 8. - Photo by Dubai Racing Club

Published: Sat 9 Dec 2023, 7:14 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Dec 2023, 7:16 PM

Last season Colour Up, who showcased his sprinting prowess with three wins and two seconds in six starts, narrowly missed out on making it to the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), the premier sprint race in the UAE run on Dubai World Cup night.

It seemed only natural that his trainer, Doug Watson, would be crestfallen, considering Colour Up had done almost everything right.

However, Watson, a record-setting eight-time UAE Champion Trainer, is as sporting as they come and is enthusiastically preparing the five-year-old son of Tally Ho stud’s young stallion Mehmas, for another high-level campaign pointing towards the Golden Shaheen.

On Friday, Colour Up justified his trainer’s faith and confidence in his ability to perform at the top tier of the sprinting division, when unleashing his power to win the Listed Al Garhoud Sprint (Presented by Azizi), the highlight of a bumper nine-race card at Meydan Racecourse.

Taakeed (Ben Cohen) winner of the Beach Oasis by Azizi handicap with Mohammed Al Shehhi, ERA General Manager and trainer Michael Costa. – Photo by Dubai Racing
Taakeed (Ben Cohen) winner of the Beach Oasis by Azizi handicap with Mohammed Al Shehhi, ERA General Manager and trainer Michael Costa. – Photo by Dubai Racing

Ridden by Sam Hitchcott, who was deputizing for the injured Pat Dobbs, Colour Up comfortably had the measure of several quality rivals including Leading Spirit (Pat Cosgrave), Saleymm (Ben Cohen) and Magic Portion (Conor Beasley).

The performance also ended a quiet spell for the Red Stables boss who was delighted with Colour Up’s seasonal debut that would kick-off an ambitious campaign for Watson.

“He was getting a bit tired there at the end, but he’ll be a nice sprinter for his owner Saeed (Hashish),” said the American who has spent three decades in the UAE.

“He’s a really tough horse. Last year he basically had sore shins all through but he ran a bang-up race at the Carnival. Then on Super Saturday and ran a really nice race (Mahab Al Shimaal) where he came up against some tough horses.

“Hopefully he can move up from here and well see what he can do,” Watson added.

Hitchcott, who has enjoyed a long association with the handler and who had a lot of success with one of Watson’s all-time favourite horses, the 2016 Godolphin Mile (G1) winner One Man Band, saluted Colour Cup’s latest performance as well.

“It was a bit messy and rough early, I wanted to be third or fourth but everyone wanted the same position,” said Hitchcott. “But he’s done it really, really well.

“He was four deep and he needed to do a little too much early, so it was a good performance

RB Rich Lyke Me wins the Group 2 Madjani Stakes Presented by Azizi for Purebred Arabians under jockey Adrie de Vries. - Photo by Dubai Racing Club
RB Rich Lyke Me wins the Group 2 Madjani Stakes Presented by Azizi for Purebred Arabians under jockey Adrie de Vries. - Photo by Dubai Racing Club

“I rode him out all last year. He’s filled out and he’s done very well. He didn’t get into the race last year, although he was entitled to, Hopefully, there’s more to come.”

While Watson took out the feature race, former champion trainer Bhupat Seemar was busy packing trophies into his car after recording a hat-trick of wins.

One of them was the Jim and Fitri Hay-owned Nevershow Weakness who won the Azizi Creek Views Maiden over 1600metres under m11-time UAE champion jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

“I think he’s a ten-furlong horse as he went through the line strong and he’ll be more in his comfort zone over further,” said O’Shea. “He’s tough and genuine and I’m glad he’s won as his owners are here.”

O’Shea and Seemar teamed-up again with Killer Collect in the MINA by Azizi before Laasudood capped a memorable night for the crack partnership when winning the Aziz Riviera Presented by Azizi in the famous blue and white silks of Shadwell Stables, one of the world’s most successful and liked racing operation based in Newmarket, England.

He was ridden by the stable’s retained rider Jim Crowly who said: “He had a very kind draw tonight, he was in stall one, but did it well.”

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Commenting on the famous colours that he was wearing the former two-time British champion jockey said: “They have been around a long, long time and its good to see that they’re still winning races.”

The next meeting at Meydan is ‘Festive Friday’ on December 22, where the G2 Al Rashidiya and Dh1,000,000 Maktoum Mile (G2) are the feature races.


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