Straight Talk bids for Jebel Ali four-timer
Preview: UAE, Friday 11.35am GMT
Jebel Ali: conditions race 1m, dirt, 3yo+
STRAIGHT TALK (Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith) puts his unbeaten Jebel Ali record on the line on Friday in the featured 1m conditions race trainer and jockey combined to win last year with Atlantic Brave.
Wayne Smith: rides Straight TalkPICTURE: Caroline Norris
Winner of half of his six career starts (all in the UAE), the five-year-old son of Refuse To Bend started his winning spree in a course-and-distance maiden at the track's final meeting of last season in March. He then won a 7f handicap on the first day of this season, before returning to a mile to win another handicap two weeks ago.
Jockey Wayne Smith said: "He is now rated 98 so certainly merits this step up in class and we will find out just how good he is. He has continued to improve with racing and experience and is bouncing at home so we are looking forward to really testing him."
Straight Talk faces six rivals, headed by Escape Route (Satish Seemar/Richard Mullen), who is penalised after dead-heating with the aforementioned Atlantic Brave in a 7f conditions race on this track four weeks ago.
The eight-year-old is seeking a sixth course win but first over course and distance (he was third in the 2011 Jebel Ali Mile on his only previous attempt), although he won over 1m2f in the UK so stamina is not an issue.
Jockey Richard Mullen said: "He is such a versatile horse and has won at Abu Dhabi and Meydan but goes so well at Jebel Ali. The penalty makes his task difficult but he seems in great form and should run well."
The highest-rated runner is Haatheq (Ali Rashid Al Raihe/Paul Hanagan) who was second in last season's Jebel Ali Mile over this course and distance as well as filling the same berth behind Mendip in the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge II at Meydan.
Hanagan, who has 20 UAE winners to his name, will be making his local debut at the meeting as retained jockey for Haatheq's owner Sheikh Hamdan and said: "His form is there for everyone to see and he has the benefit of two good runs at Meydan under his belt this season already. He likes Jebel Ali and would appear to have a lot in his favour."
Forjatt (Dhruba Selvaratnam/James Doyle) looks a big danger, assuming he stays the trip having his first start beyond 7f over which he was a staying-on second last time.