Racing at Meydan today, a six-race Gulf News-sponsored card on the same dirt surface as the $12 million Dubai World Cup, is highlighted by a pair of AED 210,000 handicaps, as well as an intriguing 2-year-old affair.
The last named, the Baby & Child Trophy, is a 1400m maiden for juvenile fillies that includes more than one promising debutante launching their career amid a bit of buzz.
Five fillies have been declared for the curtain-raiser, including two for Doug Watson with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, electing to partner Rio Angie.
Owner Hamid Radan purchased her for a hefty $320,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale in May of this year.
A daughter of Honor Code, she is a half-sister to eight winners, headed by Quantum Miss, whose biggest success was in New York’s Grade 3 Cicada Stakes. Sam Hitchcott partners Watson’s second runner, Tapi Sioux, a daughter of Tapiture and the first foal out of Netti Sioux, a winner on the all-weather in Canada.
“We like both our two, who have been pleasing us at home and it is a shame we have to run them together, but they are nice fillies,” Watson said. “Obviously, it is their first racecourse appearance, so a new experience. You do not know the strength of the opposition, but hopefully they can go well.”
Tapi Sioux is owned by Ali Al Aneizi, as is Early Motion, added to the field on Tuesday by Musabbeh Al Mheiri after the race received only four initial entries on Monday. A daughter of Into Mischief, she is half-sister to a winner and a granddaughter of Queens Court Green, a multiple G1 winner on dirt.
Watson and Hitchcott combined to win a 1200m Meydan maiden in December 2016 with subsequent UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks heroine Polar River, and her half-sister, Down On Da Bayou, is a fascinating newcomer for Salem bin Ghadayer.
The mount of Royston Ffrench, who will be sporting the silks of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum, she is a daughter of Super Saver and was acquired for €190,000 at Arqana in May.
The field is completed by Majhoola, a first runner for owners Imperium Racing and a daughter of Trappe Shot to be ridden by Connor Beasley, atop the early jockeys’ standings after a flying start to the season for Ahmad bin Harmash.
The best of the handicaps over the same 1200m as the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News is the Reach By Gulf News, which attracted a competitive field of eight with the weights headed by Rodaini, a 1400m Dubai World Cup Carnival winner for Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah in February.
Representing the Bin Harmash and Beasley combination, the 5-year-old Exchange Rate gelding is undefeated at 1200m, having landed his debut over the trip, as a juvenile, at Leicester in May 2016, the only previous occasion he has competed at the distance.
Bin Harmash said: “He is ready for a race. With his rating of 100, there are limited options, so this looks a good spot to get him back in action. He has always shown plenty of speed, so hopefully the trip will suit first time back.”
Watson is doubly represented with Dobbs aboard Lytham St Annes, a 6-year-old gelded son of Bahamian Bounty and a dual course and distance winner for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, most recently on his penultimate start in March. Stable companion Waady will have the assistance of Dane O’Neill, retained by the 7-year-old Approve gelding’s owner, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Yet to win after nine UAE outings, he was victorious six times in Britain for John Gosden, including the 1000m Group 3 Coral Charge at Sandown in July 2015.
“They are both training well and we are looking forward to getting them back on the track,” Watson said. “It looks a decent race, but we are happy enough with our pair.”
Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen combine with Touch Gold Racing’s Pop The Hood, a 7-year-old Street Cry gelding seeking his first local victory on what will be his fifth outing locally, but first for Seemar having previously been with Watson.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “He is a new horse for us and has been working well at home. He is fit and healthy, so we hope for a good run.”
Beasley partners new recruit Pennsylvania Dutch in preference to Al Basti’s Portamento from two Bin Harmash runners. A 5-year-old Dutch Art gelding, Beasley’s mount changed hands for 25,000 guineas at Tattersalls in July and was a winner seven times in Britain, twice for William Haggas and on a further five occasions for Kevin Ryan, all this year after wind surgery.
Watson is actually responsible for half of the eight runners in the equally valuable Gulf News handicap over the same 2000m as the Dubai World Cup, including Etijaah, who will attempt to concede weight to his seven rivals. Sheikh Hamdan’s 9-year-old homebred gelding by Daaher is thrice a course and distance winner, including the Curlin Handicap in February 2017 and December 2017; The Entisar (Listed), his most recent success. He, like Waady, is the mount of the owner’s retained jockey Dane O’Neill.
Beasley and Bin Harmash may again provide the most serious opposition to the Watson quartet with their Mudallel having finished last season with a course and distance victory on just his fourth local and dirt outing.