Russian Rock Seeks Third Jebel Ali Sprint Prep Crown

Field of six to face the Musabah Al Muhairi trained sprinter

The 1000m Jebel Ali Sprint Prep is the feature at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon with course specialist and crowd favourite Russian Rock seeking to win the race for the third year running for trainer Musabah Al Muhiari and stable jockey, Wayne Smith.

Seven times a course winner, six of which have been over this 1000m, Russian Rock has also won the two most recent renewals of the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint. He has to give weight to all of his six rivals but is expected to go well.

“These are his optimum conditions,” said Smith, in the saddle for all Russian Rock’s eight UAE victories, which includes one at Meydan. “The Jebel Ali Sprint, via this race again, has been the main aim all season. He is just so much better at Jebel Ali, on the dirt and he loves that hill.

“He has been going well in the mornings and hopefully he is the one they have to beat.”

Al Muhairi is particularly well represented in the feature, as is HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who sponsors the race through his Shadwell breeding organisation.

Al Muhairi saddles both Odooj and Fityaan for the owner, with retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, choosing to ride the former, having his first start on dirt. The owner’s second jockey, Dane O’Neill, partners Fityaan, runner-up to Russian Rock in this race two years ago before chasing home his stable companion in the Jebel Ali Sprint itself.

Ribaat, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, is a third runner for Sheikh Hamdan and, like Odooj, is having his second UAE outing and first on dirt.
There may only be seven runners, but it does look wide open with the Satish Seemar-trained Spin Cycle, winner of the Jebel Ali Sprint in 2011 but without a victory since, and Sholaan, completing the field.

The latter, trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, won at Jebel Ali a fortnight ago, over 1200m. Third to Russian Rock in both last year’s Jebel Ali Sprint and the prep race, he will be hoping to make it ‘fourth time lucky’ against that rival who also beat him over this 1000m at the end of November.

The second most valuable race on the card is the penultimate 1400m handicap in which a select field of six are set to go to post. Again Al Muhairi is well represented, providing half the runners.

Smith rides Colmar Kid, twice a 1600m course winner earlier in the season but who has to give weight all round. Smith said: “His course form is good and the drop to 1400m hopefully will not inconvenience him.

“It does look competitive for a six runner race though.”