He 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 favourites in the 1600m 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.
"Quip has come on a ton," Watson said. "He's moving a lot better and I think he may have been just a bit ring-rusty last time, but I really liked the way he finished. He worked (on Sunday) and Pat (Dobbs, jockey) loved him. If you're going to run for $600,000 and stretch out a horse who has wins over a distance of ground, this is the race. If he's close to his best, he's right there with the best in the race. As far as the 2000m goes, his wins over (1800m) are as far as they often go in the States, so he just has not had the chance to go that extra distance, so it's hard to tell if he'll like it. I know he has raced well over nine furlongs and many of these may not even be able to go that far."
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 lacklustre 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.