Horse racing: Doug Watson continues romance with Jebel Ali


Gabr (right) beats Eqtiraan to win the Shadwell Condition Stakes at Jebel Ali Racecourse
Image Credit: Abdullah Khalifa/ DHRC

Dubai: Former champion trainer Doug Watson found a rich vein of form when saddled a hat-trick of winners to continue his romance with Jebel Ali Racecourse as the venue hosted its second meeting of the UAE racing season on Friday.

Just a fortnight after sending out three winners at the venue, the Red Stables boss dominated the second half of the seven racecard, a sequence that was triggered by Gabr’s impressive victory in the feature race of the afternoon, the Shadwell Conditions Stakes over a mile.

Ridden by Sam Hitchcott in the second colours of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Shadwell owner, Gabr tracked the front running pair of international race favourite Captain Von Trapp and Zajeer for the early part of the contest before Eqtiraan recovered from a slow start to lead inside the 200m mark.

But Gabr, who appeared to relish his first start at Jebel Ali, found more for his rider and surged into the lead as the post approached for a decisive one-length victory.

“He was always showing a lot at home but never anything at the races,” Watson told the Dubai Racing Channel. “He broke well, which helped, and Sam gave him a nice ride. He stays a mile and quarter so I was not worried about that, staying wise. Looks like we might have a nice little horse for the later races (in the season) that go a bit longer. He’s a bit of a feminine type of horse,” Watson added. “He’s not over-big. I was always a bit afraid to run him at Meydan on the dirt where it seems like he needed to be a bigger horse. This track really suited him as he won at Goodwood (in the UK) and must like the rising ground, they too have an uphill there.

“Everything worked out well in the end.”

Watson would go on to saddle Jebel Ali course specialist Just A Penny to record an incredible ninth win on the track when the eight-year-old Kodiac gelding ran out a comfortable winner from stable companion Grand Argentier in the Shadwell Farm Handicap.

Torno Subito, a five-year-old son of Shamardaal, completed the treble for Watson when taking out the Dubai Refreshment (PJSC) Maiden in style.

Shamikh brought up the first win of the new season for Jebel Ali Stables. the winner was ridden by Ryan Curatolo for trainer Nicholas Bachalard
Shamikh brought up the first win of the new season for Jebel Ali Stables. the winner was ridden by Ryan Curatolo for trainer Nicholas Bachalard
Image Credit: Abdullah Khalifa/ Dubai Horse Racing Information Centre.

Earlier in the afternoon resident Jebel Ali handler Nicholas Bachalard combined with new stable jockey Ryan Curatolo to win their first race of the campaign with the highly regarded Shamikh, a $430,000 breeze-up sales purchase.

A handsome three-year-old son of Lea, who finished third in the 2016 Dubai World Cup behind Prince Bishop and California Chrome, Shamikh was redden with confidence by Frenchman Curatolo to take over the running at the two-furlong pole, a position from where he did not look back and crossed the line full of running.

“He was training well in the morning and we always thought that he had a lot of ability,” said Bachalard, proudly sporting a tie in the flaming yellow colours of the Jebel Ali Racecourse. “It was a good win for the team, everybody has worked very hard to get where we are today. We’ll try to go longer with him go, perhaps even go to Meydan. This race suited him here and we think that he’ll go longer.”

Curatolo was delighted with his first win in the Jebel Ali colours of Major General Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, and said: “We had a lot of hope with this horse/ He was training well and very hard. We’re very pleased with him.

“He did everything I asked him to do today, He’s a big guy he was ready to go today. Good luck to the team and I’m very pleased to pay back all those who have supported me.”

Meanwhile Ernst Oertel continued to pick off the Purebred Arabian races when Af Al Moreeb landed the opening Al Sahel Contracting Company Handicap.



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