x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Stakes are raised for final listed race of season at Jebel Ali

Musabah Al Muhairi and Wayne Smith could team up to record a landmark treble victory today at the track owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid. Sports round-up audio

Jockey Wayne Smith will be in charge of Russian Rock today.
Jockey Wayne Smith will be in charge of Russian Rock today.

DUBAI // Musabah Al Muhairi, the Emirati trainer, appears to be holding a pair of aces ahead of this afternoon's Listed Jebel Ali sprint at Jebel Ali Racecourse.

In the final stakes race of the season at the Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid-owned track, Al Muhairi is sending out Russian Rock, the winner of the prep race, as well as the runner-up Fityaan.

And the handler, who has saddled 18 winners this season so far, is in fine form at Jebel Ali.

His Treble Jig became the first horse to claim the track's two other Listed races, the Jebel Ali Stakes and the Jebel Ali Mile.

Treble Jig and Russian Rock are both owned by Fathi Esaed Mohammed Egziama while Wayne Smith rides both. The connections could be on for a unique triple victory at the famous uphill dirt track if Russian Rock is successful in the 1,000m dash.

"Jebel Ali has been a good hunting ground for us this season, Inshallah," Al Muhairi said. "Treble Jig and Russian Rock have been going very well and, Inshallah, we will have a chance in the sprint."

And if Russian Rock is not quite up to the task, then Al Muhairi also has a chance with the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid-owned Fityaan.

The 101-rated Fityaan, who will be ridden by Richard Hills, finished almost two lengths behind his stable companion in the prep race but has come on since then.

"The other horse, Fityaan could also be dangerous," said Al Muhairi. "In the prep race he was a little behind Russian Rock but he has improved, so I look forward to the race."

There is danger from every corner however. Satish Seemar, who won the last two renewals of the sprint, saddles the 2010 victor Terrific Challenge and the 2011 champion Spin Cycle.

Dhruba Selvaratnam has his hopes pinned on the plucky mare, Alo Pura who won at Jebel Ali over 200m further earlier in the year and was last seen finishing third in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint at Meydan Racecourse.

Kilt Rock, the runner trained by Doug Watson for the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club syndicate also has claims on the title.

He has four consecutive wins at Jebel Ali this season, two over the same distance as this race and two over further, but could manage only eighth in the sprint prep getting home a whole nine-and-a-half lengths behind Russian Rock.

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"I was a bit disappointed," said Watson. "He was leaning against the starting gates and when they opened he wasn't ready and broke poorly. He then got the kick-back in his face from the horses ahead and he didn't enjoy that one bit."

Watson said Kilt Rock deserved the chance to show that result was a one off.

"Of course you never know, perhaps even if he had broken nicely he might still have finished down the order but he deserves the chance to race at this level. He's been a great performer for us and owes us nothing so we will see."

sports@thenational.ae