Dubai: Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi is eager to see how Treble Jig performs in his prep race at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday, with hopes of his stable star defending his title in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Stakes in the new year.
The five-year-old son of Gone West figured prominently in a historic treble last season, which saw his Emirati handler sweep all the three Pattern races at the track — including the Listed Jebel Ali Mile and Listed Jebel Ali Sprint.
Treble Jig won the first two races over a mile while Russian Rock put the seal on the rare feat when storming home in the Sprint.
Treble Jig is being prepared to defend his titles and makes his first start of the season at the track, following two pleasing performances at Meydan and in Abu Dhabi.
“He ran some big races for us last season and made us so happy and proud,” said Al Muhairi.
“It’s great to have a horse like him in the stable and we are hoping that he can repeat the performance this year.
“He summered well and is in good condition. We know that he loves the track at Jebel Ali so we are keeping our fingers crossed that he is as good as he was last year.”
Stable jockey Wayne Smith, who was the architect of Al Muhairi’s Jebel Ali treble last term, continues his partnership with Treble Jig.
“He has run two great races this season at Meydan and Abu Dhabi but is a better horse at Jebel Ali and I think he is the one they all have to beat,” he said.
Treble Jig faces nine rivals, with Haatheq looking the most formidable of them.
Trained by champion handler Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the son of Seeking The Gold won the prep two season ago and announced his well-being with a solid performance at the track two weeks ago when winning a Conditions event over Friday’s distance by nine lengths.
Paul Hanagan takes the ride for owner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, whose Shadwell breeding operation also sponsor the race.
“Haatheq has a touch of class,” Hanagan said. “And that was a great performance last time. It had been a while since he had won but he has run some massive races in defeat and I expect him to go very close on Friday.”
Another noteworthy runner is the Doug Watson-trained Jutland who has good form at a course where he has noticed two victories since joining the stable at the end of 2011.
The trainer said: “After he won on his seasonal return this was always the next real target and then the Jebel Ali Stakes.
“We found a race for him at Meydan and he ran well but he likes Jebel Ali and will relish the 1,950m of the Stakes itself but should run well over 1,800m.
“It is a step up in class but I am hopeful though Treble Jig and Haatheq are clearly big dangers.”
Meanwhile, Russian Rock also makes his seasonal appearance at Jebel Ali when he tough-looking 1,200m Conditions event.
Assessing his chance jockey Smith remarked: “Russian Rock is another who seems a better horse at Jebel Ali and we expect a big run against some familiar rivals.”
Leading the raiding party is Al Raihe’s Mujaazef, who beat Russian Rock last time out, while United Colour is an interesting entry for resident Jebel Ali handler Dhruba Selvaratnam.