Trainer Yahagi pinning his hopes on Bathrat Leon

Yahagi's confidence must have been raised by an assured win in his first start to the season

By Joy Chakravarty

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Bathrat Leon, ridden by Ryusei Sakai, on way to winning the Godolphin Mile. — Reuters file
Bathrat Leon, ridden by Ryusei Sakai, on way to winning the Godolphin Mile. — Reuters file

Published: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 6:45 PM

It was Japanese trainer Yoshito Yahagi’s 62nd birthday on Monday. If he hasn’t already had his party and waiting for the Dubai World Cup night, Bathrat Leon could give him enough reasons to start the celebrations early on Saturday.

It was a shock win last year when he came out of nowhere and made the most of his inside-most gate to take an early lead and stay more than a length ahead of the fast-charging Desert Wisdom.


According to his trainer, the five-year-old son of Kizuna has matured since then, even though he did not win any of his four starts last year after his triumph in Dubai.

But Yahagi reckons his trip to England and France in July-August, where he finished fourth in Goodwood and seventh out of nine in Deauville, did his ward a world of good.


“Last year, he was a rank outsider, but this year, I am pretty confident about him for this race,” said Yahagi. “He has improved so much. We travelled to Europe last year where we ran the Sussex Stakes against Baaeed and he didn’t get beaten by too much. We didn’t get a good result in France, but all this travel and competing has improved his mind.”

Yahagi’s confidence must have been raised by an assured win in his first start to the season – in Riyadh on Saudi Cup night when he beat Casa Creed by a head in the 1,400 meter Turf Sprint.

Prince Eiji has improved markedly on the dirt and could provide veteran trainer Doug Watson with the win that could secure his UAE Champion Trainer of the Year ahead of Bhupat Seemar.

In fact, Watson saddles four of the 14-horse race. Apart from Prince Eiji, he has Isolate, Golden Goal and Everfast in the fray.

“On paper, you would say Isolate and Prince Eiji have the best chances, but the other two, Everlast and Golden Goal, are doing well too,” Watson said.

“We are really excited about the race. Everfast drew nice and low, while Prince Eiji drew 11 and Golden Goal 13. It’s tough from out there, but we are looking forward to them racing. They need to break sharp with good speed in the race.”

Seemar has three runners and this race could become key in his contest with Watson, as he goes into the Dubai World Cup night one win behind the veteran trainer.

Seemar’s best bet is Discovery Island, who has won three of his last seven starts in Meydan, including the Gr3 Burj Nahaar race on Super Saturday earlier this month.

“On form, looks like he’s going to be the best of our three in the race. Unfortunately, we’re drawn out in the carpark. Again, it might not be too bad a draw for him because he’s a little bit slow out of the gate. He doesn’t want too much kickback on him. You know, he makes it hard for himself. But he’s a very, very good horse. He’s doing everything right,” said Seemar.

Race 2

Godolphin Mile

Dirt: 1,600 metres

Purse $1,000,000

KIT PICKS

Bathrat Leon

Won as a rank outsider last year. He has gone from strength-to -strength after that. Also, he is coming off a solid win in Riyadh.

Dark Horse

Prince Eiji

One of two Doug Watson runners, the son of Dubawi has won over similar distance in two of his last three starts in Meydan.

Quotes

Yoshito Yahagi/Bathrat Leon

“We didn’t get a good result in France, but all this travel and competing has improved his mind.”

Doug Watson/Prince Eiji

“On paper, you would say Isolate and Prince Eiji have the best chances.”


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