Trainer Doug Watson, who currently leads UAE standings one month into the 2019-20 season with 10 victories ($349,139) and a 17% strike rate, could have as many as three starters for the first Listed Thoroughbred stakes of the season, the Garhoud Sprint. Led by stable star and local king of the dirt sprinters, Drafted, the triad of possibles is completed by a pair owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum: Waady and Ekhtiyaar.
Rated at 111, Drafted has been a force over the past year, reeling off exciting late-closing victories in the 2018 Garhoud Sprint (Listed), Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) and Super Saturday's Mahaab Al Shimaal (G3). His only blemish was second to Raven's Corner in the Dubawi (G3) on opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival. He was last seen closing impressively to finish fifth, beaten 4¼ lengths by some of the top sprinters in the world in the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) on Dubai World Cup night.
“I'm really looking forward to running him,” Watson said. “He did nothing wrong last season and you don't see many horses close from where he does and win those sprint races. His race on (Dubai) World Cup night was very good against some top sprinters.
“He's put on some muscle (over the summer),” he continued. “He'll point toward the Garhoud and Carnival again and hopefully he's improved.”
Owned by Misty Hollow Farm, the former Eoin Harty trainee (and Royal Ascot also-ran at two) has five Meydan wins since being purchased for just under $11,000 at the Racing in Dubai Sale in 2017. His class was given an additional boost after two of the four horses who finished ahead of him in the Shaheen, Imperial Hint (third) and Promises Fulfilled (fourth), went on to win Grade 1 and Grade 2 races in America.
Wearing the Shadwell blue and white will possibly be Waady and Ekhtiyaar, who each have shown impressive turf form, but only Waady has transferred that to the dirt, when winning over Pop the Hood impressively on Nov. 21 at Meydan. Said victory was also over the Garhoud and Shaheen's 1200m distance. Previously, the 7-year-old son of Approve chased some of the top turf sprinters in the UAE and Europe, including Ertijaal, Limato and Kachy.
Ekhtiyaar, on the other hand, has yet to try the sandier surface in a race, but has trained well over it at Red Stables. He has four races at Meydan since joining the UAE ranks, including a DWC Carnival win over 1200m on turf and a good second to Blue Point in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3) on Super Saturday. Watson considers him 50-50 to make the Garhoud Sprint. Last out, the 5-year-old son of Bated Breath was ninth in the $2 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1) astern the same luminary.
“He trains well over it,” Watson said. “He's not certain to go in there, but it would be good to get a race into him and try it before the Carnival.”
Watson also added that Group 3-winning miler Kimbear is aiming toward the Dubai Creek Mile (Listed) on Dec. 19. Thegreatcollection may also be possible for the 1600m contest.
“Kimbear is back and training well, but he always has,” Watson said. “He had foot issues all last season, which didn't help him. He will point to the Dubai Creek Mile and hopefully we can get him back to his best. I've always really liked him.”
Owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the 5-year-old ran fourth in the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile (G2) in March. Zaur Sekrekov's Thegreatcollection exits a comeback fourth in last Thursday's Meydan feature and was third last year in the Dubai Creek Mile.
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