"Optimum" Jebel Ali Conditions See Gobooll Bid for Selvaratnam Home Win

Jebel Ali Handler Seeks First Win of the Season

The highlight at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday afternoon is a 1400m handicap which has attracted a quality field of 13, including Gobooll, trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam for course patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Seeking his first winner of the season, Selvaratnam has four runners on the card and with stable jockey, Chris Hayes still out injured following a trackwork fall, he has secured the services of Qatar Champion Jockey, Harry Bentley.

Hayes’ spell on the sidelines should be coming to an end shortly with him expected to return to racecourse action at Meydan next week.

A dual course and distance winner, Gobooll was scheduled to run at the first meeting of the season six weeks ago, but was a late withdrawal having deposited apprentice jockey, Adam McLean, on the Jebel Ali dirt, as they headed to the start.

“My horses have been needing a run this season although Gobool probably did have the equivalent of a race, but without his jockey,” said Selvaratnam ruefully.

“Friday’s conditions are probably his optimum and he seems fit and well at home. It is a tough race but he should be competitive.”

The race is sponsored by Shadwell Farm, the US arm of the breeding empire of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose famous blue and white silks will be carried by both Jawhar and Mushaakis.

His retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, has elected to partner the latter, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and a Jebel Ali winner on this card 12 months ago. He has actually won four times in the UAE, all at Jebel Ali and twice over Friday’s 1400m trip.

He started last season in flying form, winning three of his first five starts then finishing second and third on the other two, but was then absent until Jebel Ali’s meeting two weeks ago when sixth in a 1200m handicap.

“He very much needed his last run and is in very good shape now,” said Al Rayhi. “Jebel Ali really suits him and we are very hopeful.”

UAE Champion Trainer, Doug Watson saddles four of the field with the highly exciting Okimono the choice of stable jockey, Pat Dobbs.

Now a seven-year-old, Okimono will be having just a fourth career start of an obviously setback-savaged career. He ran once in England, when second in September 2011 and was then not seen again in public until Boxing Day 2014.

On his first start for Watson, he easily won a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden but, sadly, missed the rest of the season and only returned for the first meeting of the last UAE campaign.

That too was at Jebel Ali, this time over 1200m and resulted in another victory but he missed the rest of the season.

“He has proved fragile certainly,” said a wistful Watson. “He is working very nicely and we are very pleased with him. He has proved his ability to run well fresh and, hopefully, he can do so again on Friday.”

Sam Hitchcott would have had the second option from the Watson quartet and chooses Stunned, second to Mushaakis, over 1200m, on this card last year.
“He is ready for a race and this looked a good option,” said Watson.

The aforementioned Jawhar, and dirt debutant, Lytham St Annes, complete the trainer’s strong hand.

“Both have been off the track since February and we want to get them back in action,” said Watson. “We have turf options for them early next year but this gives us a chance to see how they handle Jebel Ali where neither have run before.”

Satish Seemar saddles two, with Richard Mullen choosing Fit The Bill over Pupil.

Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar said: “Both are in good form and should run well in an obviously competitive race.

“Fit The Bill will be racing on dirt for the first time but seems to work well on it at home.

“Pupil has run well at Jebel Ali in the past and, hopefully, will do so again.”