Musabah Al Muhairi runs three in a conditions race at Jebel Ali on FridayPICTURE: Cedric Lane
Russian heads strong hand for Al Muhairi
Preview: UAE, Friday
Jebel Ali: dirt
RUSSIAN ROCK (Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith) returns to the 5f course and distance of his victory in last season's Listed Jebel Ali Sprint when facing 14 rivals in a conditions race on Friday.
The five-year-old heads a three-pronged assault on the race by Al Muhairi, who also saddles Fityaan (Tadhg O'Shea) and Kanaf (Sam Hitchcott).
Stable jockey Smith said: "We were struggling a bit this time last year but have made a much better start and all three of ours are going well at home but Russian Rock does have the advantage of having one start already this season.
"He ran well enough at Meydan and has come on a lot for that. He has a penalty for the Listed win but I expect a big run."
Also penalised is Mujaazef (Ali Rashid Al Raihe/Dane O'Neill) who won this equivalent race last year when Russian Rock was fourth. He won four on the track last season and led for a long way in a similar 7f race two weeks ago which he had also won in 2011.
O'Neill said: "That was a good comeback under a penalty against some very good horses. We still have the penalty to contend with but he will cope with the return to sprinting and should be in the shake-up."
Al Raihe also saddles Hajoum (Royston Ffrench) and Happy Today (Harry Bentley) with the latter making his seasonal bow having last run in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on World Cup night.
Bentley said: "He has a touch of class and is very good on his day. He has won at Jebel Ali so the surface is not an issue and I am really looking forward to getting on him in a race."
Alo Pura (Dhruba Selvaratnam/James Doyle) receives weight as the only mare in the race and ran an excellent second at Meydan on her return this season but stable companion Jaasoos (Sam James) is likely to find this on the sharp side on his seasonal bow.
Kilt Rock (Doug Watson/Pat Dobbs) carries the silks of Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC) and won his first four course starts last season and finished the season with an excellent third in the Jebel Ali Sprint.
He is trained by Doug Watson and EERC spokesman Justin Byrne said: "He goes well fresh and loves it at Jebel Ali. His work has been good and we are very excited about him this season with the Jebel Ali Sprint the long term target again."