Trainer's charges look to reward his faith in them on Super Saturday
DUBAI // Doug Watson rates his Super Saturday runners as the nicest horses he has ever had in his thriving yard.
Silver Pond, the French star, makes his UAE debut in Saturday night's Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge and Albaasil runs in the newly upgraded Group 1 Jebel Hatta over 1,800m, which doubles up as a dress rehearsal for the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night.
"We have had very nice horses in this yard but right now I would say those two are nicest we've ever had," said Watson, the multiple UAE champion trainer.
Silver Pond came to Red Stables, the Dubai-based operation, at the start of the season.
His journey from Europe to the UAE came via a run in Hong Kong's Group 1 Vase where, under jockey Thierry Jarnet, he dead-heated with the Ryan Moore-ridden Red Cadeaux to a one-and-a-half length third behind Dunaden, the Melbourne Cup winner.
Owned by Saeed Nasser Al Romaithi, Silver Pond is one of two runners formerly trained by Freddie Head, the French handler, to have come to the UAE. Ali Rashid Al Raihe currently conditions Rajsmanan, Silver Pond's former stable companion.
Unlike Rajsaman, who already has a number of runs under his belt for Al Raihe, Silver Pond needed some time to recover from his travels, according to Watson.
"Silver Pond, when he arrived here from France, he was very quiet," Watson said. "He'd had a long journey to Hong Kong and France and back here, so we gave him a little bit of time and just kept him in light training, and he's done really well.
"He has a really laid-back nature and he just does his job well. I think, knowing his past form, that he has quality and once he settled in here he really started thriving."
Silver Pond showed glimpses of his class in Hong Kong and in October's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, where he finished eighth after being forced to come from well off the pace.
The Group 2 winner now needs to translate his form to the all-weather track at Meydan Racecourse.
"He is a very high-class horse and he's worked well on the all-weather, but as we all know, you simply can't tell how they will handle the track in a race until they actually do race on it," Watson said. "It is tough to tell how he'll go in a race, but he couldn't be in better form at this stage, and he should go close."
He will be partnered by French jockey Olivier Peslier Saturday night.
Albaasil also excites Watson.
Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, he has finished a close-up second on both his UAE starts under Richard Hills.
"When he came here had only had four runs," Watson said. "He ran the first time and just got beat, and we stepped him up to the Group 2 and he got beat by a short head. He's drawn well and he should have every chance."
Published: March 9, 2012 04:00 AM