JEBEL ALI // Dhruba Selvaratnam's hopes of a trip to the winner's circle at Jebel Ali's second meeting today ride with two equine brothers.
Mannjal and Otaared are two of three full brothers who reside at Selvaratnam's Jebel Ali Stables, with Laa Rayb, who does not race today, completing the trio.
They were sired by a leading US stallion, Storm Cat, who at his peak commanded US$500,000 (Dh1.8m) for each live foal, and their mother is Society Lady.
Mannjal is the oldest, at eight, but his advancing years have not slowed him. A course specialist and always popular with the Jebel Ali crowd, Mannjal was cheered home a winner three times out of five last term and claimed one second.
After 244 days away from the track, Mannjal heads the field in a quality renewal of the six-furlong feature race, a conditions contest worth Dh120,000.
"He's getting on a bit now but he's full of himself and he's been round that track a fair few times so he knows what it's all about," said Selvaratnam, who expects his charge to perform at his usual consistent best under the jockey William Buick. "I've taken him to Meydan for a workout and he's pleased me."
Mannjal, who like his brothers is owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, will not renew his long-running rivalry with Escape Route, who does not run today.
Instead, he faces competition from Doug Watson's pair, Alsadeek, a winner over course and distance, and Classic Blade, who Mannjal beat into fourth at last outing.
Also in action is Blackat Blackitten - a familiar name from Dubai World Cup in 2008 who finishe sixth in the $1m Godolphin Mile. He starts at Jebel Ali today for Jamil Salman and represents an unknown quantity, having not been seen on a racecourse since that outing.
Selvaratnam will be watching Otaared's effort in the Dh110,000 handicap over seven furlongs with a keen eye. "He disappointed me a little after his first start last season," said Selvaratnam of the runner who nevertheless won two from six starts.
"But he is very well and is always strong on his first start. If he runs the race I know he is capable of I would be confident he will be there at the finish."
2.30pm: thoroughbred handicap (60-85), 1,800m (a9f), dirt, Dh70,000
3pm: thoroughbred handicap (55-80), 1,600m (a8f), dirt, Dh65,000
3.30pm: thoroughbred conditions 1,200m, (a6f), dirt, Dh120,000
4pm: thoroughbred handicap (80-105), 1,400m (a7f), dirt, Dh110,000
4.30pm: thoroughbred handicap (70-95), 1,400m (a7f), dirt, Dh85,000
5.05pm: thoroughbred handicap (50-75), 1,000m (a5F), dirt, Dh60,000