Doug Watson enjoyed a night he is unlikely to forget at Meydan on Thursday, not only saddling a quartet highlighted by the smooth victory of Cosmo Charlie in the feature, but also bringing up his 500th UAE winner during the course of proceedings.
The highlight, a 1600m rated conditions stakes, the Longines Ladies Master Collection, looked competitive on paper but very few of the 11 runners put up a serious challenge.
Well away under Pat Dobbs and soon in front, Cosmo Charlie, winner of the Listed Al Bastakiya over 1900m on Super Saturday last season, was always travelling strongly on this his seasonal return and they had the race in safe keeping fully 500m out.
Dobbs was never forced to get serious with his mount with the only question remaining who would chase him home. The answer was Faulkner, also trained by Watson as was the third Layl in a result somewhat reminiscent of the trainer’s 1-2-3 in the 2016 Godolphin Mile, when Faulkner was also runner-up but had been absent since.
Cosmo Charlie wins the Longines Ladies Master Collection Rated Conditions giving trainer Doug Watson one of four wins on the night (credit DRC and Andrew Watkins)
A delighted Watson, greeting his 501st winner said: “Cosmo Charlie has really strengthened up since last season and is a horse we have high hopes for this campaign. He looks a really nice prospect and, I would imagine, we will look at the Godolphin Mile with him.
“Al Maktoum Challenge R1 is definitely on his agenda and he might run once more before then.”
Earlier, ideally drawn in stall one, Dane O’Neill was soon able to secure both the lead and the rail in the Longines Gents La Grande Classique, a 1200m handicap, and the pair were never headed, quickening clear early in the straight before winning comfortably.
Trained by Watson for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who retains O’Neill, Moosir was recording his fourth career win, all bar one here in the UAE.
His previous UAE wins had been achieved over 1600m and 1700m, while he actually made a victorious racecourse debut, in France in 2013, over 2000m and was trying this trip for just the third time.
“It was actually Jim Crowley, who rode him last time over 1600m, who suggested dropping him in trip,” explained Watson. “He said to leave the visor on him and try him over 1200m. It has worked well with Dane giving him a great ride and it opens up a few more options for the horse.”
That was winner number 499 in the UAE for Watson who had to wait just two races to bring up the magic 500, courtesy of Thegreatcollection who ran out comfortable winner of the Longines Gents Master Collection, a 1400m handicap.
Ridden by Pat Dobbs, he was never far off the pace set by Sam Hitchcott aboard stable companion, Lytham St Annes and the pair fought out a duel throughout the first half of the home straight.
Dobbs’ mount proved too strong about 250m from home and Scrutineer denied Lytham St Annes second in the dying strides but two lengths adrift of the winner.
Watson said: “Both have run very well and we were quite confident with Thegreatcollection after his excellent third here two weeks ago.
“It is quite a quick turnaround between races but he was in great form in the interim so we were happy to come back tonight.
“It is a nice landmark to reach, 500, and it is testament to all the team who work so hard on a daily basis.”
The Longines Ladies La Grande Classique, a 1600m handicap, appeared to be run at a furious gallop which suited Secret Trade, ridden patiently by Tadhg O’Shea for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Well beaten over 1800m on his seasonal debut last Friday, his only previous win was at Al Ain last season, over 2000m and his stamina was to the fore here.
Having cruised into contention early in the straight, they shot clear 300m from the line and the race was over.
O’Shea said: “They went pretty quick which has suited my fellow who is probably a 2000m horse. Not surprisingly the leaders tired and I was able to pick them up before he powered to the line.”
The meeting opened with a 1200m maiden, the Longines Conquest Classic in which the only filly in the race, Halima Hatun, proved to be in a class of her own and was far too good for her 10 rivals.
Partnered by Antonio Fresu, she was soon in front and, always travelling smoothly, skipped clear leaving the home turn after which she never looked likely to be caught.
Trained by Ismail Mohammed for Abdullah Menahi, the juvenile daughter of Algorithms ran once in England, when well beaten in a 1400m maiden at Salisbury.
The benefit of that experience, combined with a new trip and surface, worked the oracle here. Fresu explained: “The trainer was quite confident, telling me she had been working well on dirt and to ignore her previous run.
“The 1400m was too far on that occasion and she has relished conditions tonight. I had a good draw and very low weight so was happy to go to the front. Basically, I was never worried.
“It was a good win and she can improve because she was still a bit green, even though she had that one run before.”
Having his sixth career start, all in the UAE, Mazeed was able to open his account in the 1600m maiden, the Longines Equestrian Collection.
Produced to lead about 200m from home by Richard Mullen, he went him past stable companion Beachcomber who had the early lead under Pat Cosgrave.
As that rival weakened, it was left to Daffg to throw down the last challenge but Mullen’s mount was always holding on.
Owned by Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and previously trained by Mike de Kock, he was having his first start here for Satish Seemar who said: “I am delighted he has won here and it is just reward for a lot of hard work that has gone into the horse.
“Hopefully, now he has won, he can build on this and I was also very pleased with Beachcomber who made a very pleasing debut and is a horse I really like.”
The finale, a 2000m handicap was won by Dehbashi who was impressive on returning from a 251 day break, to cap a sensational night for Champion Trainer Doug Watson, and Pat Dobbs who were recording wins number four and three respectively.
Dobbs said: “It has been a super night. To ride three winners is always special but the way Cosmo Charlie, in particular, won was very pleasing on a great night for Doug and all the team at Red Stables."
All seven races were on the Meydan dirt surface.