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Selvaratnam Hopes to Call Bluff on Opposition as Jockey Doyle Reunites with Jebel Ali Stables

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Bluff may be facing two former Jebel Ali Stakes winners on Friday but connections hope some gallant efforts in defeat will pay dividends as he contests the featured Shadwell Conditions Race.

James Doyle, a former stable jockey for Selvaratnam, will take the ride on Bluff over the 1800m trip, with current stable jockey, Chris Hayes missing out due to injury.

Trained on the track by Selvaratnam, for racecourse patron HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Bluff was second over 1400m at the second meeting of the Jebel Ali season a fortnight ago.

That was the rising five-year-old’s first run after having been gelded over the summer.

“Bluff ran very well when second on his seasonal return a fortnight ago,” said Selvaratnam.

“That was over 1400m and Friday’s 1800m will suit him much better. He has been working well and we hope for a big run but it is a good race. Perhaps Jutland is the main danger but there are a few nice horses in the field.

“My horses have been in need of an outing this season,” said Selvaratnam. “He should run well and, hopefully, be placed at least.”

Ten competitors have been declared, including two past winners of the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes over the longer trip of 1950m in the guise of Jutland and Interpret.

Jutland, one of UAE Champion Trainer Doug Watson’s three runners in Friday’s race, won that Jebel Ali feature in January 2015.

The nine year old boasts an impressive 12 career victories, including the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship on turf in March 2013.

Seeking a sixth Jebel Ali success in total, Jutland is the mount of Sam Hitchcott with his regular partner, stable jockey Pat Dobbs, choosing to ride the trainer’s Mizbah.

Seven year old Mizbah too is a course and distance winner, as is Watson’s third contender, Ostaad, one of two in the race owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Winner of the UAE Owner’s Championship for the last four years, HH Sheikh Hamdan also sponsors the contest through Shadwell, the UK arm of his breeding empire.

“All three of mine are proven under Friday’s conditions and are in good form at home,” said Watson. “I hope all three will be competitive though my horses have been improving considerably from their first run this season.

“If I had to pick one it would probably be Mizbah who has won the first race of the season in each of the last two seasons, so certainly goes well fresh. But it is a tough little race.”

Sheikh Hamdan’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, has chosen to ride Ostaad at the expense of the owner’s second runner, Kanaf trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri.

Kanaf is a six time Jebel Ali winner but has never raced over further than 1600m. The 9 year old will be partnered by Adrie de Vries, with Al Mheiri’s stable jockey, Fernando Jara, preferring Interpret.

Jara’s choice landed the Jebel Ali Stakes in 2014, one of four course victories, the most recent of which was achieved over this trip in March 2015.

Interpret can never be ruled out under these conditions, a comment which also apples to Mawhub.

Trained by Satish Seemar, whose team are in great form, he is the mount of Richard Mullen but has not won for almost two years.

In the 2015 Jebel Ali Stakes Interpret did manage to finish second behind Jutland.

“We have him in good shape and ready for a run,” said assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar.

“However, he will improve from the outing.”