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Watson Zeroes In With Isolate For The Saudi Cup



[Saudi Cup Official Release] Despite eight-time UAE champion trainer Doug Watson being one of the prominent faces of success in Middle-East racing for the past two decades, the American expat will saddle his first starter in the world’s richest race, Saturday's US$20m The Saudi Cup.


RRR Racing’s Isolate (USA) represents the conditioner in the 1800m test, having won his past two races - the Godolphin Mile and Al Maktoum Mile - in dominant fashion.


"We didn’t have a horse that belonged in the big race until now and at the same time, there are lots of good Super Saturday races around the same time in Dubai, but this horse deserves a chance to compete against these horses," Watson said.


"It’s been the plan since he won the Godolphin Mile last March to give him a rest and then come back in the Maktoum Mile and then hopefully Saudi Arabia. We know he’s best at a one-turn mile [1600m] and think a one-turn nine furlongs [1800m] will suit him. We were disappointed we didn’t originally draw into the field, but I’m glad we eventually did and now we will take our chances in the big race."


It has not been a vintage season in Dubai for Watson, who just last year won his eighth championship, with the New York-born horseman having to make do with markedly fewer horses, due to retirements and reallocations.


The quality-over-quantity approach has pressured Watson in all the right ways to turn on the afterburners at the top end, winning races like the Zabeel Mile with San Donato, Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge with Kabirkhan, Jebel Ali Sprint with Colour Up and the aforementioned Al Maktoum Mile among just 14 victories since the season began in late October.


"We have a nice group of horses at the top end and we have done our best with them," Watson explained. "San Donato doing what he did was a nice bonus and Kabirkhan being so talented and pointing him toward the [Dubai] World Cup has been really exciting.


"The good horses have been important because we no longer go in there thinking we are going to win two or three races a Carnival night, we focus on the best race for the best horse and it has gone well."


Isolate, who galloped an easy circuit of the King Abdulaziz dirt on Wednesday morning under Oscar Chavez, has made just four starts for Watson, with two seconds and the aforementioned pair of victories to his credit. Previously Stateside, where he made 12 starts, he has flourished at Red Stables.


"It’s a tough field and it’s the best he’s ever going to run against, but he seems to be getting better and better the longer he’s with me," Watson said. "He would have been a big contender in the Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday, but he deserves this opportunity.


"The couple of days he’s been in Saudi Arabia, he’s definitely seeing a lot of new things and is a little keen, but he’s also very ready to run, so that’s OK. At home, he’s very quiet and within himself and likes to train. The way he moves, the way he trains and his strength after the summer off… just everything - he’s a far better horse than when he was in America and a superior horse to when he won the Godolphin Mile."


All that said, Watson is ever the pragmatist, sprinkled with a healthy amount of optimism.


"We’re excited, expect a really nice run and we’re happy with the draw," he concluded. "He’s so well within himself. With a good break, realistically I’d like to finish top five and I know he’s good enough to do so."



(22/2/2024)

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