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Young Gun Bluff Looks to Stand Ground Against Veteran Kilt Rock in Jebel Ali Feature

Racing returns to Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday for a six race card, with all races sponsored by Emirates and just six declared for the featured 1600m handicap, including the Doug Watson pair Ostaad and Kilt Rock, both Jebel Ali regulars.

Stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, partners Kilt Rock, a seven-time winner in the UAE, including five successful outings here at Jebel Ali. Three of Kilt Rock’s Jebel Ali wins came over 1200m, while two over 1000m before he went on to score twice at Meydan, over 1200m on turf and 1400m on dirt.

He has only twice tried 1600m, without any joy, but, now as a ten-year-old, connections seem to think it is worth a try at this trip, especially after he was seemingly outpaced in his two sprint outings this season.

On the other hand, stable companion Ostaad’s most recent victory was over 1950m, the longest trip over which they race at Jebel Ali. That was almost 13 months ago and was one of his three course victories.

He needs to bounce back from two disappointing Jebel Ali efforts though, the first when well behind one of Friday’s rivals, Bluff, over 1950m.

“Ostaad has not really fired the last twice but is continuing to work well,” said Watson. “He has won over 1400m so the return to this trip may help him.

“Kilt Rock has been a great servant to the yard and is in very good form. We think he will stay the 1600m and are hopeful of a big run.”

Ostaad carries the colours of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and is the choice of Jim Crowley. The same owner’s Mushaakis, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi is the mount of Dane O’Neill, also retained by Sheikh Hamdan.

Dhruba Selvaratnam saddles two in the field for racecourse patron HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, including Bluff who is trained at Jebel Ali. The five year old finished second a couple of times last season and was also runner-up here on his seasonal debut.

He then opened his local account a couple of months ago in the previously mentioned 1950m handicap in which Ostaad was last, before failing to land a blow in a Meydan 1600m handicap.
He is joined in the field by stable companion Gobooll with stable jockey, Chris Hayes, staying loyal to Bluff who was both his and Selvaratnam’s first winner of the season when scoring in December.

“He is a talented horse but not the easiest to ride as he makes a jockey’s life hard work,” said Hayes. “The small field might help him and, hopefully, he will be staying on up the hill in the long straight.”

The sextet is completed by Long Water, trained by Helal Al Alawi for whom he was a first ever Thoroughbred winner when landing a 1400m handicap at Meydan in November.

He has run well at Jebel Ali in the past and cannot be ruled out under Royston Ffrench in a fascinating small field contest which looks likely to develop into a tactical affair with the speedsters, such as Kilt Rock, opposing the stayers, like Bluff, over this interim trip.