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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Gopi Selvaratnam willing to call Bluff as top contender at Jebel Ali race

Trainer backs five-year-old gelded son of Tapit after he finished second in his first start of previous campaign

Gopi Selvaratnam is confident Bluff can get off the mark in his first appearance of the season in the rated conditions race over 1,950 metres at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday.

The five-year-old gelded son of Tapit, a course and distance winner before last Christmas, was second in his first start of the previous campaign and is clearly capable of running well fresh.

“He seems in good form at home and should run well,” said Selvaratnam, who took charge of the Jebel Ali Stables after his brother Dhruba retired in the summer.

Bluff will be ridden by stable jockey Oisin Murphy.

“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," Selvaratnam added. “He should improve for the outing but we are hoping for a big run under conditions which suit him.”

Doug Watson, who celebrated five wins – four at Meydan Racecourse and one in Abu Dhabi – last weekend, is left with a solitary runner in Resonant after Misbah and Just A Penny were both late withdrawals.

Resonant won over the 1,600m trip at Jebel Ali in the first meeting of the season a month ago, and Watson says he can be among the challengers for the prize again.

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“He has had a run this season so there are no worries fitness wise,” the UAE champion trainer added.

“He is training well and has proved he likes it at Jebel Ali which is always a bonus. It is a good prize and nice to have a live chance, but it is a shame Mizbah was a bit lame so has to miss out as he would have been very competitive.”

Of the others, Ijmaaly, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, appeals most as he makes his second appearance for the season.

The chestnut gelding by Makfi won twice from his three starts in the United Kingdom, but has not been able to replicate that form in five local starts.

He was unplaced behind Shamaal Nibras in a 16-runner rated conditions race in Abu Dhabi in his first run for the season and Al Raihe said he has benefited from that run.