Weight a hindrance but jockey confident of Treble Jig's form to do an encore of last year.
Jockey Wayne Smith prepared for Jebel Ali challenge
DUBAI // Jebel Ali racegoers are in for a real treat this afternoon at the final meeting of 2012 with two quality conditions races for Thoroughbreds highlighting the six racecard.
The official feature is the 1,800m prep race for the Jebel Ali Stakes (1,950m) in two weeks time and Treble Jig, winner of that Listed feature before making history by becoming the first horse to follow up in the Jebel Ali Mile, heads the weights.
Wayne Smith was in the saddle for both big wins last season and rides again for his main employer, trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.
"He loves it at Jebel Ali and has won both his races there," said the jockey. "He has run well at Abu Dhabi and Meydan this season, so we know he is in good form and we are very hopeful despite the fact he has to give weight away."
Heading the challenge would appear to be Haatheq, winner of this prep race two years ago and a similar race two weeks ago over 1,600m.
Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, he will be partnered by the owner's retained jockey Paul Hanagan for the UAE Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who saddles three in the race which he also won last year with Yirga.
Hanagan said: "He [Haatheq ] was impressive the last time and his best form is as good as anything in the race. He goes well at Jebel Ali and that win should hopefully have boosted his confidence."
Doug Watson saddles Jutland, a dual course winner including over this distance six weeks ago.
"The Jebel Ali Stakes has always been the target and this is the ideal race for him," said the South African trainer. "He will be better over 1,950m but should be thereabouts on Friday."
Al Muhairi, Smith and Treble Jig's owner Fathi Esaed Mohd Egziama enjoyed a stellar Jebel Ali season last term, winning all three of the track's featured Listed races with Russian Rock completing the treble in the 1,000m Jebel Ali Sprint. He too is in action today and faces 10 rivals in a very competitive 1,200m Conditions race.
Smith said: "Like Treble Jig he seems best at Jebel Ali and ran a great race there last time when just touched off. He has been working well since then and will go close."
Again, Sheikh Hamdan, Al Raihe and Hanagan provide a serious threat, this time in the shape of Mijaazef, who beat Russian Rock last time, while 2011 Jebel Ali Sprint winner Spin Cycle is another to consider for the Satish Seemar/Richard Mullen combination.
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