The season’s leading trainer, Doug Watson rarely leaves Meydan empty handed and Saturday’s Racing at Meydan meeting provided a happy hunting ground for the Red Stables handler who collared four winners and just lost out in a photo.
Stable jockey, Pat Dobbs was in the plate for three of Watson’s wins, while Paul Hanagan provided the fourth.
Leading the way on the DP World-sponsored night was Stunned ridden by Dobbs, who led close home in the 1200m Mina Al Hamriyah dirt handicap, opening his local account in the process and doubling his career tally at the same time.
His previous success was over 1000m on the all-weather at Chelmsford and he had demonstrated his versatility during his three previous UAE outings when he finished second at Jebel Ali over 1200m before twice finishing third over 1400m.
“He was slightly flat footed as the gates opened,” said Dobbs. “We had planned to race more handily but I was not able to as a result. But he has faced the kickback and, if anything, was travelling too well turning in.
“He stays 1400m so I knew he would run all the way to the line and he has shown a good attitude.”
Stunned is owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti and the same connections wasted little time doubling up, scoring with Tobaco in the 1600m dirt handicap. This victory owed an awful lot to his jockey’s persistence as he looked one of the first in trouble with Dobbs at work before halfway.
Once able to angle off the rail, Tobaco picked up in the straight, running on to collar the Mike de Kock-trained Baroot inside the final furlong.
Unraced prior to this season, Tobaco, was second on both his first two starts, before winning a 1200m maiden, on the same dirt surface, two weeks ago.
“He is very inexperienced and was not happy as we were tight on the rail,” said Dobbs. “He will learn from this and is a horse we have always really liked.
“I would imagine we will put him away now for next season when he could be a nice horse with these four starts under his belt.”
Dobbs’ treble was completed when Active Spirit made virtually all in a 1900m handicap, sporting the colours of the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club syndicate.
He powered across the line five lengths clear of stable companion Nathr, the mount of Paul Hanagan.
“The visor has made a massive distance to this horse on his last two starts,” said Dobbs. “I was pretty confident I had plenty left the whole way round and it was a big win.”
Watson did not get everything his own way though and, in a thrilling finish to the featured 1600m turf handicap, witnessed his Mutasayyid and Hanagan caught, and passed, in the very last stride by Groor, finishing very fast under David Probert. Less than an hour later this blow was forgotten when Hanagan came out on the right side of photo, this time when aboard Banaadeer who had hit the line in the alongside Kasb in the closing 1200m turf handicap.
“The switch to turf has suited this horse [Banaadeer] and we will look for something at the Dubai World Cup Carnival with him now he has reached the required level,” said Watson.
Groor, the winner of the winner of the evening’s feature race, the DP World region over 1600m on the turf, is trained by Bahraini handler, Ali Jan. Groor was having only his second start for new connections having won once when trained in England by James Tate. He was only ninth on his first outing for Jan when running over 1400m but the extra 200m really suited him.
“They went pretty hard up front and I have been able to get a nice position,” said Probert. “Stamina was always likely to be his forte and he picked up in good style in the straight. Mr Jan was talking about running him over 2000m next time and that should be ideal for him.”
The opening 1400m maiden was won convincingly by the Satish Seemar-trained Mister Parma, making his local debut and having only his ever second career start.
A field of 14 faced the starter but, as it transpired, only half a dozen were ever able to land a blow.
Wayne Smith, drawn one on the Fawzi Nass-trained Omri, tried to make all and, at the top of the straight had seen off all challenges, bar that of the winner, still travelling well under Richard Mullen.
Smith’s mount tried to fight him off but had no response when Mullen asked Mister Parma to win his race, pulling away nicely.
“It was a weak maiden,” said Mullen. “He is a big, immature horse who is only going to improve, both mentally and physically. He has taken well to the sand and we will have to think were to go next and when.
“We could look for a handicap this season or maybe put him away. He has bags of potential and is a nice, new, young horse in the yard.”