Dubai: Trainer Doug Watson will be hoping that Rayya, his hugely exciting UAE Oaks (Group 3) heroine, can provide the final touch to what has been a momentous season for the American, who captured a sixth UAE trainer’s championship.
The daughter of Tiz Wonderful looked to have stamina on her side in the Oaks, which will hold her in good stead when she takes on the colts in the 1,900-metre $2 million UAE Derby (Group 2) on Saturday, Dubai World Cup day.
The field is headed by Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Gold Town, winner of the UAE 2,000 Guineas over a mile, and also includes Irish raider Mendleson, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar, USA.
Watson is under no illusions about his filly’s chances of winning the final Classic of the UAE racing season and said: “I know Gold Town is a good horse and Aidan’s horse [Mendleson], I don’t know much about, but, hopefully, we can get the trip and have home field advantage in our favour. We know she can get the distance.”
Rayya has had the benefit of a four-week break since the Oaks and should strip a lot fitter in Saturday’s contest.
“She’s doing super,” Watson reported. “She had a nice piece of work (on March 18th) and she’s in really good shape.
“The four weeks after racing every three weeks will definitely be helpful. It’s nice to have that 30 days and she’s handled it well, having come out great.
“She’s just going to do a couple pieces of work and go over there with a good chance.”
Watson is also keeping his fingers crossed that Rayya gets a good gate position.
“Hopefully, she gets a good draw and we can have a clean trip,” he said.
“She can sit off the pace if Gold Town goes, like she did in her maiden win, or she can go forward. She’ll get into that great rhythm and stride she has; that excellent cruising speed.”
Rayya has won two of her four starts, while she finished second in the other two.
After breaking her maiden over 1,400 metres, she returned to finish second in both the 1,400-metre UAE 1000 Guineas Trial and 1,600-metre UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) before winning the UAE Oaks by three-and-a-half lengths.
Watson indicated that a run in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks in May could be on the cards if Rayya runs well in the UAE Derby.