Hopefuls Prep For Stakes at Jebel Ali Friday

Haatheq Could Shine in Absence of Two-Time Stakes and Mile winner, Treble Jig

The forthcoming clashes for the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes and Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile take on a new complexion this season, unfolding in the absence of the dominating influence of Treble Jig, the horse that claimed each renewal of the track’s biggest races over the last two seasons.

Friday sees the opening skirmish in the battle for the first of Jebel Ali’s major contests, the Jebel Ali Stakes. And while Treble Jig, a former Musabah Al Muhairi charge, may be due to race for new connections in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, there does seem a decent possibility that his happy hunting ground may be dominating by one horse – Haatheq from trainer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s yard.

Friday’s 1800m Jebel Ali Stakes Prep is the highlight of the UAE’s final meeting of 2013 and is supported by five other equally fascinating races. Haatheq certainly appears to hold a strong hand in the prep. He was second to Treble Jig in this race last year, demonstrated his consistency when finishing second to the highly impressive Soft Falling Rain in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup day last season and made short work of his rivals on his seasonal debut over 1600m at Meydan three weeks ago.

Those credentials have made the son of Seeking The Gold the choice of owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s retained jockey, Paul Hanagan from the owner’s three runners.

Haatheq is penalised for his earlier win this season but Hanagan sounds hopeful. “We know the conditions suit him and he won nicely last time,” he said. “This is perhaps a better race but we will not be far away.”

Jutland, behind Haatheq when third in this 12 months ago, has to give weight to all his rivals after his victory in last season’s Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship after which he was an excellent third in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night.

He ran well when second on his return to action and trainer, Doug Watson said: “This has been the plan since his run a month ago and he is in great form at home.”

Dormello was third in the Abu Dhabi contest won by Jutland in March but may just need this run on his first outing of the season, according to trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, who fancies his 104-rated charge for the Dubai World Cup Carnival, which gets underway on January 9, 2014.

“This is a good race for his comeback run but he is certainly going to improve for the race. Hopefully he is going to be competitive for us at the Dubai World Cup Carnival where we are looking at some of the turf races for him.”

Russian Rock, the two-time Jebel Ali Sprint hero, is seeking an unprecedented eighth course victory in Friday’s 1200m Conditions contest. He needs to concede weight to all nine opponents but looked as good as ever when winning on his seasonal return.

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, he has a new pilot in the shape of British Champion Jockey, Richard Hughes, winner of the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah at Meydan last week and taking in his first race at Jebel Ali. Hughes steps into the breach for injured stable jockey, Wayne Smith who is recovering from a broken collar bone sustained at the December 13 Jebel Ali meeting.

Stable companion, Muarrab looks a massive danger having won three of his four course starts, including both outings this season. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan, he is unsurprisingly the choice of Hanagan.

Doug Watson saddles Kilt Rock, third in this race last year and runner-up in the Jebel Ali Sprint in March. However, he is facing Russian Rock for the ninth time and has yet to finish in front of him.

United Color chased Russian Rock home in this contest 12 months ago and went on to win at the Dubai World Cup Carnival before a career best fourth in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night.

He is trained on the track by Selvaratnam for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Selvaratnam said: “He has not run since Dubai World Cup night so will improve for this run and Russian Rock will be very hard to beat.”