Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi's multiple Grade 2 winner Quip leads a strong Doug Watson-trained team this weekend in Dubai and looks to improve upon a disappointing local bow when he makes his second UAE start in Super Saturday's Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. The son of Distorted Humor was a distant fifth as one of the favorites in the Firebreak (G3) on Feb. 13, failing to show the early spark he had displayed for his previous connections in the USA, resulting in a wide trip and one-paced performance.
Two others from the Red Stables of Watson are looking for improved performances on March 7. HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Ekhtiyaar will try overcome a lackluster last-out run and do one better than his runner-up effort in last year's $350,000 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3), while Khalid bin Mishrif's American import Liam's Legend enters the $300,000 Al Bastakiya (Listed) after a disappointing run in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) on Feb. 6.
“I think Ekhtiyaar was on the wrong side of the track last time,” Watson explained. “He also wants a little firmer ground and it was a little sticky that night. He didn't have a great work schedule before that, either, but has been training really nicely heading into this. He's a nice horse and I don't think we saw the real him the other day. We were giving weight to Rusumaat and that's a big difference. I think he'll run a pretty nice race.
“I was a little disappointed with Liam's Legend,” he continued. “He got a little leg-weary that day and was down inside. Honestly, I think he's matured into a nice horse. We would like to be a little closer, as this is such a different kickback then he's used to back home. We'll try to get him out there and put him in the race. We're hopeful he'll run well.”
Ekhtiyaar drew post 11 and will be ridden once again by Jim Crowley, while Liam's Legend partners with Pat Dobbs and breaks from post 12. Both races have full fields of 16.
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