Dubai: Russian Rock added to his incredible run of success at Jebel Ali Racecourse by landing the Prep for next month’s Dh500,000 Jebel Ali Sprint, the last of the three Black Type races staged at the track.
With regular rider Wayne Smith on board, the six-year-old son of seven-time Group 1 scorer Rock Of Gibraltar sprinted clear of his seven challengers at the two-furlong post to post an emphatic one-and-a-quarter length victory over arch-rival Kilt Rock.
A bargain £11,000 (Dh61,755) acquisition at the 2010 Tattersalls Horses-In-Training Sales, Russian Rock has now earned more than 13 times his sale price for owner Fathi Esaed Mohammad Egziama.
Arguably one of the best sprinters to have raced at Jebel Ali, the latest victory was Russian Rock’s fifth at the track and ninth overall from 26 starts. He was also recording a fifth success over Kilt Rock, himself a five-time winner at Jebel Ali.
Kildare native Smith, a UAE champion jockey in 2010-2011, completed a dream run of six wins aboard the horse, who was previously trained by Roger Teal in the UK.
After receiving a tumultuous welcome in the winner’s enclosure by an appreciative crowd of more than 12,000 fans, Smith said: “He travelled nicely and quickened up well when I wanted him to. I dropped out smarter today and the plan was to sit on his girth and he was pretty instant when I wanted him to go.
“The obvious choice is to come back here for the Sprint, he’ll probably take a bit of beating in that as well.”
Smith could not stop himself from praising a horse who has given him so many special moments, saying: “He’s a very versatile horse, he goes on anything. He’s genuine and tough and he really gives you his all when he’s at the races.”
Winning trainer Musabah Al Muhairi was delighted with the consistency his stable star has shown. “He’s a lovely horse to have in the stable,” he said. “We’re so fortunate to have horses like him and Treble Jig, who have given us so much of joy. We’ll be back next month for the Sprint.”
Al Muhairi and Smith are the leading trainer-jockey combination at Jebel Ali, with the former having notched 19 wins to Smith’s 17 this season.
Meanwhile, former UAE champion handler Dhruba Selvaratnam ended a long wait for success when saddling a double with the help of stable jockey James Doyle.
Selvaratnam won the Shadwell Farm handicap with Forjatt for what was only his second winner of the season and then 30 minutes later added a third when stable veteran Kessraa took the Al Hudaiba Contracting LLC Handicap.
You could see the relief on his face when saying: “This has been a very frustrating season, we’ve had so many seconds and thirds. I’ve been here for nearly 22 years, but I’ve never had a season like this.
“We had 17 winners last years and almost all our horses went up in handicap and it can take two years to come down again.
“But it’s nice to see horses like Forjaat and Kessraa win, they fully deserve this and so do the whole team, who have been very patient.”
Doyle, looking equally delighted to be riding winners again at a track where he spends so many hours working horses to peak fitness, said: “It’s been a frustrating season as we started at the wrong end of the handicap. It’s taken a bit of time to drop but they’re starting to be competitive. There’s only a few race meetings left but hopefully we can bang a few more on the board. It would be nice.”
Earlier in the afternoon, the Gill Duffield-trained Borkan Al Zobair emerged as the surprise winner of the HH Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Breeders Society Challenge for Purebred Arabians,