Dubai: Emirati handler Mosabah Al Muhairi will be hoping that history repeats itself when he sends out Russian Rock to contest Friday’s Dh500,000 Jebel Ali Sprint, the third and final Pattern race of the season.
Twelve months ago, the well-bred son of Rock Of Gibraltar, romped home a two-length winner of the Sprint to seal a record-setting sweep of all three major races at Jebel Ali for the Oasis 1 Stables handler.
Today, Russian Rock has the chance to help Al Muhairi reprise that unique feat when he faces nine rivals over a straight five-furlong course. He will once again be ridden by stable jockey Wayne Smith, who has been on board in all five of Russian Rock’s notable wins at Jebel Ali.
The Irish rider issued an upbeat bulletin ahead of the contest, saying: “Russian Rock did his final piece of work on Wednesday morning and we could not have been more pleased with him; he is in really good form.
“The 1,000m trip at Jebel Ali is certainly his optimum conditions and he should go very close to defending his crown.
“We are really looking forward to it.”
Al Muhairi, also revealed that Russian Rock could make a quick return to action at Meydan on Saturday to contest the Meydan Sprint, the prep for the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night.
“He’s entered on both days, but our first priority is the Jebel Ali Sprint on Friday,” Al Muhairi said on Thursday. “We’ll see how he runs and comes out of the race before we decide to send him to Meydan on Saturday.
“Obviously, we would like to win the Sprint again, but we are also looking ahead to the big race on Dubai World Cup night. His owner, Fathi Esaed Mohammad Egiama, is keen to go to the Al Quoz and the only way to get an invitation was to run him in the Meydan Sprint.
“It’s a challenge, but since both races are over only five furlongs, we think he can handle racing over two days straight. He’s a tough horse who loves his racing and he runs well at both Jebel Ali and Meydan, so we’re thinking we’re hopeful. But like I said we’ll have to see what happens at Jebel Ali before we decide on Meydan.”
Among Russian Rock’s main rivals are Kilt Rock, who he has had the upper hand on all season, and the Jebel Ali-trained Sholaan, who was third in the prep for the Sprint.
Justin Byrne, who heads Kilt Rock’s syndicate of owners, the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC), was hopeful and said: “We will beat him one day. Both horses love it up that hill and, on one of these occasions, hopefully, everything will fall right for our horse. Friday would be the perfect day for that to happen.
Sprint Cycle, who won this contest in 2011, will bid to regain the prize for Zabeel Stables handler Satish Seemar who also saddles new recruit Temple Meads.
Richard Mullen takes the ride on the former and said: “Spin Cycle is obviously proven under these conditions and is always capable of a good run. Temple Meads is an interesting new horse in the yard and one I know well. If he handles the surface he should go well and he will be a fun horse for next season however he fares on Friday.”
Today’s card feature five other interesting handicaps and racing starts at 2.30pm