Watson would trade trainer's title for victory on Dubai World Cup night

Watson is focused on Saturday's mega $30.5 million race meeting at Meydan where he will saddle six horses across three races

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Leslie Wilson Jr

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Prince Eiji will compete in the $1 million Godolphin Mile. — Twitter
Prince Eiji will compete in the $1 million Godolphin Mile. — Twitter

Published: Sun 19 Mar 2023, 8:56 PM

Veteran UAE handler Doug Watson has stressed that he would rather lift a trophy on Dubai World Cup night than win a seventh Trainer’s title and not find success at what he calls ‘the best international race meet in the world.’

Watson holds a slender one-point advantage over his nearest rival and reigning champion Bhupat Seemar with 38 winners while Ernst Oertel, a former title holder himself, is in hot pursuit with 34 winners.

“If we can get a winner on World Cup night and then fall short in the championship iI’ be happy,” the American told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

“But if we didn’t have a winner on World Cup night and we won the championship I wouldn’t be quite as happy.

“I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice to be champion trainer again, but I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve had so far. It’s something you like to do but it’s not something you set the whole season aside to achieve,” he added.

“Bhupat and Ernst are doing a very good job with their horses. So it was always going to be tough. But hopefully we can do something on World Cup night and then we have three more thoroughbred races after that for which we have some nice horses lined up.”

Having spent almost three decades in the UAE and also experienced the monumental growth of flat-training from close quarters, Watson has developed the ability to be very clear on his priorities.

At this point, he is focused on Saturday’s mega $30.5 million race meeting at Meydan where he will saddle six horses across three races, including four in the $1 million Godolphin Mile.

“I am particularly excited about the Godolphin Mile,” said Watson who recorded back-to-back victories in the contest in 2016-2017 with One Man Band and Second Summer.

“We’ve got four horses in there and four very good jockeys on them. They’re all in really good shape and I’m really excited about the race.

“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,” the master of Red Stables added.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing how San Donato runs in the Al Quoz Sprint. He’s got an outside draw but the trip is right.

“Al Nayyir, who goes in the Gold Cup, never works well but he worked very nicely today and he’s in really good health. I’m looking forward to seeing how he can do in that group”

Given the fact that he heads to Saturday with some genuine contenders, Watson was quick to reflect on things that were out of his circle of control, like the draw and luck.

“When you have big fields you want to be drawn on the inside, that’s for sure,” he said. “A lot can depend on where your horse is drawn.

“But that’s not in our control. We can only worry about what we can do to get the horses fit and ready and I believe that they are all in really good shape. Now, all we need is a little bit of racing luck.”

Listening to Watson talk about his horses you can’t help but notice the passion he has for his sport, which led to us asking him whether his heart still skips a beat in big races like the Dubai World Cup.

“I got butterflies last night watching my filly Al Mahbooba win the Final Leg Of The Al Ain Marathon Series,” he said. “it doesn't change. I get butterflies at the smallest meeting and I get butterflies at the biggest meeting, only I get more butterflies.

“I’ve been here in the UAE for a long, long time and I’ve experienced so many good things. But it's nights like the World Cup that will always amaze you.

“Look at how the meeting has developed into such a great international night I think it’s the best international race meet in the world. It has been for many years now and to be part of it is pretty special.”

Watson’s Six Pack

GODOLPHIN MILE (GROUP 2)

ISOLATE; Pat Dobbs (jockey)

PRINCE EIJI; Tyler Gaggalione (jockey)

EVERFAST; Oscar Chavez (jockey)

GOLDEN GOAL; Sam Hitchcott (jockey)

Previous winners

2016 One Man Band

2017 Second Summer

AL QUOZ SPRINT (GROUP 1)

SAN DONATO; Pat Dobbs (jockey)

Previous winner

2008 Mutamarres

DUBAI GOLD CUP (GROUP 2)

AL NAYYIR; Pat Dobbs (jockey)


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