Dubai: Jebel Ali Racecourse is all set to rock ’n roll when course specialists Russian Rock and Kilt Rock face-off in the prep race for the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint, the last of three major races staged at the track annually.
Between them the two stars have amassed nine wins at Jebel Ali, with Russian Rock poised to complete back-to-back wins in the Prep, before he attempts to win next month’s Sprint for the second successive year.
Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi at the Oasis 1 Stables, the six-year-old son of Rock Of Gibraltar appears to have the edge in Friday’s contest having comfortably outsprinted his rival in a handicap over course and distance six weeks ago.
Al Muhairi, who has trained Russian Rock since he arrived in the UAE in March 2011, is hoping that his stable star can win today’s race assertively.
“He’s in very good form and I expect him to run a big race,” said the Emirati handler. “I want to see him take control of the race and stamp his authority on his rivals. Obviously we will be looking at the Sprint before we consider taking him to Meydan, with the Dubai Golden Shaheen being his long-term target.”
While he has dominated proceedings at Jebel Ali, Russian Rock has not won at Meydan since December 2011, where he beat stable companion Firestreak by four and a half lengths in a handicap on the Tapeta.
Al Muhairi believes his charge has trained on from last season and that he needed his first run when almost beaten by United Colour in a six-furlong handicap in December.
While United Colour is absent from today’s start list, his stable companion Sholaan represents the home team of Dhruba Selvaratnam.
A son of Invisible Spirit, Sholaan has had just the one start at Meydan, where he finished a close fifth to Medicean Man on the turf.
Previously trained by William Haggas in the UK, one of his best performances came at York last June, where he displayed a blistering turn of foot to land the lucrative Bond Tyres Trophy.
He is reported to be training well and the team expects him to go close.
Kilt Rock was a Jebel Ali winner on his first four starts last season before he met his nemesis Russian Rock, who has beaten him on four occasions.
His trainer Doug Watson acknowledges that his star has a fair bit to find on form but nonetheless expects him to run well.
Racing opens the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Breeders Society Challenge for Purebred Arabians with the Ebrahim Hadhrami-trained Af Kamaash looking the one to beat.
Racing starts at 2.15 and entrance is free.