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Russian Rock Goes For Record Third Jebel Ali Sprint Title

Al Muhairi Star Seeks Listed Victory Friday before Contesting Super Saturday Sprint

Jebel Ali’s penultimate meeting of the season on Friday afternoon is highlighted by the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint, a 1000m dash and course specialist, Russian Rock, seeks an unprecedented third victory in a race first contested in 1994.

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, Russian Rock won the race in both 2012 and 2013 but will need to be at his best if to complete the hat-trick in what appears a strong renewal.

Stable jockey, Wayne Smith, rides as usual with the pair seeking a ninth UAE victory, eighth at Jebel Ali and seventh over this 1000m course and distance. Smith said: “Obviously these are his optimum conditions and he should run his usual honest race. He is not getting any younger but should be thereabouts in a good race.”

Russian Rock also runs in the Meydan Sprint on Super Saturday, a race in which he was fourth last year after defending his Jebel Ali Sprint crown.

When he won this last year he was chased home by Kilt Rock and Sholaan, both are in opposition again, as is Spin Cycle, sixth last year but winner of the 2011 Jebel Ali Sprint.

Russian Rock was only second in the Jebel Ali Sprint Prep two weeks ago when trying to give weight to Sholaan who proved far too good on that occasion. They meet at level weights this time but Sholaan, winner of both his two most recent starts, looks a big danger.

He is trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and will be ridden by James Doyle who said: “His win over 1200m two starts ago was good but his win last time, in the prep, was a better run. The 1200m is probably his better trip but he has the pace for 1000m and should go close.

“Obviously we do not get weight from Russian Rock this time and there should be little between them but we hope our horse is improving.”

Runner-up in this last year, five time course winner Kilt Rock has actually chased home Russian Rock three times and finished behind his nemesis on four other occasions.

Trained by Doug Watson, he won on the Meydan turf on his most recent outing. Watson said: “That success should have done his confidence the power of good and he has run plenty of good races at Jebel Ali. This race has been the target all season and he goes there in good form.

“It is a strong renewal but he should run his race and be competitive.”

The aforementioned Spin Cycle has not won since landing this in 2011 so Merhee, representing South African Mike De Kock, might prove a bigger danger. Caught close home on his UAE debut, over 1200m on the Meydan all-weather track, he has not built on that in two subsequent runs.

The trainer saddled Drift Ice to win this in 2008 and, assuming he handles the dirt, he should go well under Pat Cosgrave.

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum sponsors the race with retained jockey, Paul Hanagan choosing to ride Fityaan, runner-up to his stable companion, Russian Rock, in this two years ago (when Kilt Rock was third and Spin Cycle ninth).