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Russian Rock will surely be hard to beat in Friday’s Listed Jebel Ali Sprint as he bids to become only the second horse to win the 1000m dash twice in consecutive years. Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, stable jockey Wayne Smith will again be in the saddle, sporting the silks of owner Fathi Esaed Mohd Egziama and the trio are attempting to again complete a clean sweep of the three Jebel Ali feature races with Treble Jig having won both the Jebel Ali Stakes and Mile in each of the last two seasons.
Smith sounds very hopeful. “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,” he explained.
“ The 1000m 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.”
He is also declared at Meydan on Saturday. Stable companion Kanaf, whose owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum sponsors the race through Shadwell, the UK arm of his breeding operation, has won at Jebel Ali but has been struggling for form this season.
The 2011 winner, Spin Cycle will attempt to regain his crown, a feat never before achieved in a race won in the past by subsequent Group 1 Golden Shaheen winner State City (2003). He is trained by Satish Seemar, seeking a fourth win in the race and who will also saddle new recruit Temple Meads, formerly trained by David Brown in England.
He was an excellent second on his local debut in a 1000m turf handicap at the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival but did not fire in two subsequent runs. Stable jockey Richard Mullen, who has ridden the five-year-old in all bar two of his ten career starts, rides him with stable apprentice Marc Monaghan aboard Spin Cycle.
Mullen 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.”
The race was first contested in 1994 and Dhruba Selvaratnam, who trains on the track for racecourse owner HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, won the first four runnings, with Try Prospect, winner in both 1996 and 1997 and who remains, to date, the only dual winner of the race. He also saddled 2006 winner Raging Creek and relies this year on Sholaan, third behind Russian Rock in the prep race.
With the yard hitting form, he should not be far away but he does have to make up ground on both Russian Rock and Kilt Rock, second in the prep and third in this race 12 months ago. Trained by Doug Waston, he has yet to finish in front of his nemesis Russian Rock in seven attempts.
Justin Byrne, who heads his syndicate of owners, the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC), is hoping he will come out on top this time.
“We will beat him one day,” he said. “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.”