Dubai: Veteran handler Dhruba Selvaratnam is hoping that a step up in distance will suit the former American-trained Bluff when he runs in the featured Shadwell Conditions Stakes at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday.
Although the four-year-old son of Tapit faces some strong opposition, including several higher-rated types, the Jebel Ali maestro is confident that his stable hopeful has the engine to match.
Bluff may have turned a few heads when running on for second on his seasonal debut two weeks ago, a performance that Selvratnam feels will have done him a world of good.
“Bluff ran very well when second a fortnight ago,” said Selvaratnam.
“That was over 1400m and I think Friday’s 1800m will suit him much better as he was staying on well at the end of the trip.
“He has been working well and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes. He has the stamina to cope.”
Selvaratnam rated 2015 Jebel Ali Stakes winner Jutland to pose the most danger among Bluff’s nine rivals.
“It looks a very hot race, and as usual all the good middle-distance horses tend to run in thses sort of races,” he said. “Jutland looks the main danger but there some other nice horses in the field,”
Selvaratnam does not believe in rushing his horses and is quite happy to allow them to find their form as the season progresses,
“My horses have been in need of an outing this season,” said the handler. “He should run well and, hopefully, be placed at least.”
Godolphin pilot James Doyle, a former stable jockey for Selvaratnam during the 2013-2014 UAE racing season, will take the ride on Bluff.
Doyle won the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile with Forjatt during that partnership.
Jutland is one of UAE Champion Trainer Doug Watson’s three runners in the race.
The experience nine-year-old son of Halling has posted seven career victories for the reigning champion trainer, including one in the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship on turf in March 2013.
The winner of five starts at Jebel Ali Jutland is the mount of Sam Hitchcott with his regular partner, stable jockey Pat Dobbs, choosing to ride the trainer’s Mizbah, also a course and distance winner.
Watson’s, whose third runner is Ostaad, the mount of Dane O’Neill.
Assessing his runners Watson said: “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.”
Emirati handler Musabah Al Muhairi, who has his string in fine order, is also two handed with Kanaf, a six-time Jebel Ali winner and Interpret, who won the Jebel Ali Stakes in 2014.
Zabeel Stables boss Satish Seemar, renowned for his ability to turn around a horses’ form, runs Mawhub. the seven-year-old son of Dubai World Cup-winner Singspiel.
However, he has not won since December 2014.
“We have him in good shape and ready for a run,” said assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar. “However, he will improve from the outing.”
Friday’s card also features four competitive looking handicaps and a maiden’s event.
Race 1: 1. Damar; 2. Tadarrok.
Race 2: 1. Tides Rise; 2. Enery.
Race 3: 1. Bluff; 2. Jutland
Race 4: 1. Logistics; 2. Pictograph.
Race 5: 1. Mushir; 2. Morawij.
Race 6: 1. Ordinal; 2. Brazen.
Day’s best: Tides Rise.