Gopi Hopes to call opponents 'Bluff', including Watson duo, at Jebel Ali
Jebel Ali Racecourse will celebrate National Day on Friday when staging their third meeting of the current campaign highlighted by a rated conditions race over 1950m for which nine have been declared.
These include seasonal debutant Bluff, a course and distance winner just before Christmas last year and trained on the track by Gopi Selvaratnam for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The mount of stable jockey Oisin Murphy he was second on his first start of the last campaign, so is clearly capable of running well fresh.
“He seems in good form at home and should run well,” said Selvaratnam. “He can be a bit lazy in his races but is certainly ready for a run and as fit as we can get him without one.
“He should improve for the outing but we are hoping for a big run under conditions which suit him.”
Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, celebrated five winners, four at Meydan and one at Abu Dhabi, last weekend and was due to saddle three in this.
However, sadly, Mizbah who was the choice of his stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, was announced as a non-runner on Wednesday.
In their absence, Sam Hitchcott has chosen to partner Just A Penny, five times a course winner but untried beyond the 1800m over which he won in March, in a race actually won by Mizbah 12 months earlier.
Resonant, the mount of Tadhg O’Shea, completes the remaining Watson duo and was a 1600m Jebel Ali winner at the very first meeting of the season a month ago.
“Both have had a run this season so there are no worries fitness wise,” said Watson. “They are training well and have proved they like it at Jebel Ali which is always a bonus.
“It is a good prize and nice to have two live chances but it is a shame Mizbah was a bit lame so has to miss out as he would have been very competitive.”
The race is sponsored by Shadwell Farm, the US arm of the breeding empire of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose own famous blue and white silks will be carried by Ijmaaly.
Dane O’Neill, retained by the owner, rides for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi on a horse making his dirt debut. It will be just his sixth outing in the UAE and he too has the benefit of a run this season, albeit a well beaten one at Abu Dhabi three weeks ago.
This 1950m is the same course and distance as the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes, won in 2014 by Interpret who will be making his seasonal bow for Maria Ritchie. Stable jockey, Fernando Jara, rides a horse who has four Jebel Ali victories to his name but not since March 2015.
Last year the equivalent race was over 1800m and won by Sharpalo, who runs in the National Day Cup at Abu Dhabi on Sunday for Ahmad bin Harmash. The trainer relies on Brabbham here but Galles could be a bigger danger.
As the only three-year-old in the field, he receives weight from his eight rivals, and won his only local start on this course over 1800m a fortnight ago, for Salem bin Ghadayer. Stable jockey, Royston Ffrench, again rides.
The main support race, a 1200m handicap, is the final race on the card and Sholaan, trained by Selvaratnam, as well as Watson’s Indescribable, look to hold leading chances.
Satish Seemar saddles Riflescope who, along with Al Rayhi’s duo, Beachy Head and Kasb, as well as local debutant, Yalta, now with Bin Ghadayer, can also be competitive in an open looking contest.