Watson hopes Cowboy can be Cool at Jebel Ali's new surface
Mountain Lion powered by Richard Mullen places first during the Shadwell race at Jebel Ali Race course in Dubai on Friday.
Dubai - Group 3 winner and 2016 Godolphin Mile third, Cool Cowboy makes a Jebel Ali Racecourse debut on Friday
Group 3 winner and 2016 Godolphin Mile third, Cool Cowboy makes a Jebel Ali Racecourse debut on Friday when he contests the afternoon feature race over 1400m.
Prepared at Red Stables in Al Quoz, Dubai by UAE Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, Cool Cowboy's Group 3 victory came over Meydan's 1600m dirt course last season before scoring a third in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile behind stable mates One Man Band and Faulkner.
A regular winner over 1200m when racing in his native USA prior to 2015, Cool Cowboy has form over this 1400m trip at Meydan from January of this year. Penalised for his Super Saturday victory, he will give weight to all bar one of his nine rivals, Mashaaref, on Friday but he clearly has a touch of class.
This will be his first experience of the Jebel Ali surface and hill but his trainer is looking forward to running him.
"He is in great form at home and ready for a run," said Watson. "There are only so many opportunities for this kind of horse and we were keen to get a run into him before the Listed race at Meydan next month.
"This looked the perfect opportunity to do that and the owner was keen to try him at Jebel Ali. We think he will handle the conditions and should run a big race but he does have a lot of weight first time back."
Cool Cowboy may be unproven at Jebel Ali but stable companion, Just A Penny is a familiar sight in the winner's enclosure at the track and is seeking a fifth course victory and fourth in succession having closed out last season in flying form.
Watson said: "This is a step up in class for him but he certainly merits it on what he showed last season. He too is going well at home and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the better grade."
Stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, elects to ride Cool Cowboy with Sam Hitchcott aboard Just A Penny.
The Watson duo will need to be at their best to repel a strong challenge from a Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained trio, including the aforementioned Mashaaref, winner of this race last year and in 2013.
Seeking a third win in the contest, he shares the burden of top weight with Cool Cowboy and, like stable companion, Kanaf, is owned by Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, sponsor of the race through Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of his breeding empire.
Probably significantly, apprentice George Buckell partners Mashaaref with Dane O'Neill, retained by the owner, choosing to ride Kanaf, himself a six time Jebel Ali winner.
Stable jockey, Fernando Jara is aboard the trainer's third runner, Art Wave, another who thrives at Jebel Ali with five course victories to his name.
The field in a fascinating feature also includes Bluff, trained on the course by Dhruba Selvaratnam for racecourse patron, Shaikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Twice a winner when trained in the USA, he failed to win on four local outings last season, his first for new connections, yet showed signs of ability.
Not surprisingly Selvaratnam had him gelded over the summer and he looks a very interesting prospect, embarking on his second campaign in the UAE.
"He is a nice horse but was sweating a lot before his races last season," said Selvaratnam. "We had him gelded, and we are hoping he will be more relaxed this season and the signs look good in that respect.
"This does look a hot race though and Cool Cowboy will be very hard to beat."
With Jebel Ali stable jockey, Chris Hayes, ruled out through injury, Selvaratnam has secured the services of Richard Mullen who is available with Satish Seemar not represented in the race.