Selvaratnam Appoints Yet Another Promising Apprentice

Picture: Dubai Racing Club/Mark Monkhouse (Cedric Lane

Jebel Ali Trainer Takes Delivery of Interesting New Charges

Apprentice jockey, Thomas Brown, who makes his first appearance at Meydan Racecourse tomorrow, is the latest in a long line of talented young apprentices to be based at Dhruba Selvaratnam’s Jebel Ali Stables.

Brown, who finished runner-up in the British Apprentice Jockeys’ Championship last month, will make his Meydan debut aboard trainer, Hassan Albloushi’s Commander Cave in tomorrow’s 1600m Handicap and later rides Dahteer for his main employer, Selvaratnam in the 1400m Handicap.

Brown, who has already tasted victory this season after Selvaratnam’s Momaris was a five-length winner at Jebel Ali at the opening meeting of the season, was attached to trainer, Andrew Balding’s yard while in England. The youngster came to the UAE at the beginning of this season to ride alongside Selvaratnam’s stable jockey and former apprentice, James Doyle.

Brown, 21, who hails from Kent, England, follows in the footsteps of high profile former Selvaratnam apprentices including Johnny Murtagh, Willie Supple, Brett Doyle, Pat Smullen, William Buick and James Doyle.

“I’d seen Thomas ride over the summer and I knew that my stable jockey, James [Doyle] couldn’t make the first meeting of the season, so I rang Andrew Balding and asked whether Thomas was available,” said Selvaratnam who has a strong track record in spotting the riding stars of the future and bringing them to Dubai.

“I knew that he was right up there at the top of the apprentices’ table and I thought he looked like he would do well here,” said Selvaratnam, who has trained for Jebel Ali patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for two decades. “The only problem is that he has only one winner left until he has ridden out his claim in the UAE where apprentices can only ride up to 70 winners as opposed to 95 in the UK.”
Brown, for his part, said he had to choose between staying in England to contest the tail end of the British Apprentice Championship where he was in touch with leading apprentice, Jason Hart or make the journey to the UAE.

“Andrew Balding told me that I had the chance to come out to Dubai to be based with Dhruba,” he said. “He said it was a good opportunity and, basically, did I think I was going to win the apprentice championship.”

Brown decided that a season in Dubai was too good an opportunity to miss and prioritised the prospect of possible Dubai World Cup Carnival rides over the final days of the championship. He ultimately finished on 41 winners from 240 rides, to Hart’s 51 from 369 rides, while Balding’s second apprentice, Oisin Murphy, ended third on 38 from 226 rides.

Brown comes from a horsey family, but the focus was on ponies and showjumping as opposed to racing. “Early on I was interested in racing, but I didn’t really start taking it seriously until I was around 14,” he said. “I went to ride out for John Best on Saturdays and went to Andrew Balding’s after that.”

The apprentice has ridden out a few times for Musabah al Muhairi and is hopeful that he may pick up a few spare rides while he is in the country.

“I found out that I’d nearly ridden out my claim here after the Momaris win, which is a shame,” said Brown. “Having the allowance just might make it a bit easier to get some rides, but that’s how it goes.
“Basically, I’m just going to keep my head down and work hard, hopefully ride a few winners and with some luck build foundations that might mean I can come out here in future years.”

For his part Selvaratnam is also hopeful of a few winners this season, he has his stable stalwarts to rely on including tomorrow’s runner, Cannwin, Momaris, who won on his seasonal debut, 2013 Jebel Ali Sprint third, Sholaan, the 2011 President’s Cup victor Jaasoos, Jebel Ali specialist, Forjatt and Dubai World Cup Carnival runners, Dormello and Laa Rayb among others.

Among the new additions are two exciting former Roger Varian inmates, the 100-rated Ashaadd, a son of Dansili, who has three wins under his belt over 1200m-1400m and Yarroom, a 97-rated Cape Cross colt whose last racecourse appearance was a winning one over 2000m at England’s Chester. “They are promising three year olds,” said Selvaratnam. “They will probably show more next season than this season, but we are hopeful they can settle in well and we will just see how they go.”

Also new to the yard this season is Fehaydi, a three-year-old from English trainer, William Haggas. He is rated 88 and his form shows a win on the all-weather at Wolverhampton. He’s joined by the 87-rated Kohlaan, another Roger Varian charge and a four-time winner on the turf over 1400m-1600m.