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Track Record Holder Shea Shea Sure To Feature In Al Quoz Sprint

Takes On O’Brien’s Starspangledbanner And US Speedball, Varsity

The maximum field of 16 have been declared for the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored by Emirates NBD.

The 1000m turf dash and the Mike De Kock-trained Shea Shea looks certain to be a popular Pick Six selection after his track record breaking winning effort on Super Saturday.

He and Christophe Soumillon blitzed their rivals three weeks ago with an awesome display of sprinting and De Kock reports his charge in good heart and said: “We knew he had improved a lot from his first run and expected a big effort on Super Saturday and he certainly did not let us down. You could not fail to be impressed with that and Christophe certainly was.

“He must have a serious chance but this is a stronger race and I see the American horse Varsity has a blisteringly fast winning time to his credit. He would be a big danger if showing that kind of speed but Shea Shea is at least as well as he was three weeks ago, hopefully a bit better.”

Starspangledbanner, a Group 1 winner in both Australia and Europe, represents Ireland’s Champion Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Having not raced in 2011, he failed to win in five starts last year but pleased his trainer at the Breeders’ Cup.

“He showed a glimpse of his old speed in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, said O’Brien. “He is now dropping down in trip which will hopefully suit him. Nice ground is important to him and he seems in good form.”

Also from Ireland is trainer Mick Halford who has both Russian Soul and Invincible Ash declared and said: "Russian Soul has improved with each run over the course. He has more to find but is progressive. Invincible Ash seems to be coming to herself. It`s her time of year and she has started to spark since her last run. She`s been working a lot better recently and we`re hopeful of a big run."

Fellow Irish raider Sole Power, runner-up in this race last year, also chased home Shea Shea three weeks ago but has been pleasing connections in his work. Trained by Edward Lynam, he will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh and Lynam said: “He`s very well and they say that 15 of 16 is a good draw. We have two and a half lengths to make up on Shea Shea from last time but we`re hoping he might do it and run as well as he did when second in the race last year."

The UK is also well represented with Robert Cowell who saddles both Spirit Quartz and Monsieur Joe and the Jeremy Gask-trained Medicean Man.

Joy and Fun won this for Hong Kong in 2010 but the now ten-year-old, who was also third last year, may well find a few of his younger rivals too strong on this occasion. Compatriot Eagle Regiment looks to hold stronger claims but has suffered a late injury scare and appears to have the worst of the draw in one.