Ali Rashid Al Raihe (left): has strong hand for feature conditions racePICTURE: Singapore Turf Club
Mujaazef faces tough field at Jebel Ali
Preview: UAE, Friday
Jebel Ali: dirt
MUJAAZEF (Ali Rashid Al Raihe/Dane O'Neill) will need to be at his very best if he is to defend his crown in the 7f conditions feature at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon with five more course and distance winners in opposition.
These include stable companion Five Cents (Royston Ffrench) and the pair are joined by 6f course winner Alazeyab (Harry Bentley) to give the champion trainer a particularly strong hand in a fascinating contest.
Al Raihe, who as always has made a flying start to his title defence, said: "All three seem in good form at home and we are happy with them. They have all run well fresh in the past and we are looking forward to what looks a very good race."
Champion Jockey Tadhg O'Shea rides Ouqba, one of two in the race for Doug Watson, for the first time since he won the Jersey Stakes on the horse at Royal Ascot in 2009.
O'Shea said: "It will be great to get back on him again and that was a great day at Ascot - my first winner at the Royal meeting and first big race success for Sheikh Hamdan."
Ouqba is having only his second local start and is joined by stable companion Quartier Latin who has been off the tracks for 616 days.
Watson said: "Both of mine are going to improve from the run but this is a good start point. This is Ouqba's third season with us but only second run and first on dirt, while Quartier Latin has at least proved he handles the surface."
Atlantic Brave (Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith) chased home Mujaazef in this race last year and Ibn Battuta (Adrie de Vries) is another quality performer for the yard.
Smith said: "Both have good course form and we have made a good start to the campaign. There is little between our pair in a very hot contest for so early in the season."
Course and distance winners Escape Route (Satish Seemar/Richard Mullen) and Otaared (Dhruba Selvaratnam/James Doyle) complete the field and both look big dangers to all with Selvaratnam's charge seeking a sixth win under these conditions and seventh overall on the track he is trained at.
Sarbola and Kessraa both won on this card last year for Selvaratnam and will be trying to repeat those victories in handicaps over 1m1f and 7f respectively.