Stakes winners Treble Jig and Russian Rock, both owned by Fathi Esaed Mohd Egziama and trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, return to action Dec. 28 on the year's final race card at Jebel Ali racecourse in the United Arab Emirates.
Earlier this year, the duo provided their connections with victories in Jebel Ali's top three stakes, with Treble Jig taking the Jebel Ali Stakes and Jebel Ali Mile and Russian Rock winning the Jebel Ali Sprint.
Treble Jig, entered in the conditions race on Dec. 28 that serves as the prep race for the Jebel Ali Stakes on Jan. 11, will need to be at his best in the 1,800 meter (about 1 1/8 miles) prep race.
"He has run two great races this season at Meydan and Abu Dhabi but is a better horse at Jebel Ali and I think he is the one they all have to beat," said stable jockey Wayne Smith.
The stiffest competitor would appear to be Haatheq, winner of this prep race two years ago and trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for Sheikh Hamdan whose Shadwell breeding organization is sponsoring the race. Paul Hanagan takes the ride and was clearly impressed with the horse's course victory over 1,600 meters two weeks ago.
"Haatheq has a touch of class," Hanagan said. "And that was a great performance last time. It had been a while since he had won but he has run some massive races in defeat and I expect him to go very close on Friday."
Course and distance winner Jutland, trained by Doug Watson, looks a serious rival and the trainer said: "After he won on his seasonal return this was always the next real target and then the Jebel Ali Stakes. We found a race for him at Meydan and he ran well but he likes Jebel Ali and will relish the 1,950 meters of the stakes itself but should run well over 1,800 meters.
"It is a step up in class but I am hopeful though Treble Jig and Haatheq are clearly big dangers."
Russian Rock will face 10 rivals in a 1,200 meter conditioned race that has also attracted Spin Cycle, winner of the 2011 Jebel Ali Sprint. This looks ultra competitive and jockey Smith continued: "Russian Rock is another who seems a better horse at Jebel Ali and we expect a big run against some familiar rivals."
These include Mujaazef, again representing Sheikh Hamdan, Al Raihe and Hanagan. He beat Russian Rock in a similar race over 1,000 meters last time when Kilt Rock was third for Watson and his enthusiastic group of owners, the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club.
Dhruba Selvaratnam, who trains on the track for racecourse owner Sheikh Ahmed, introduces two new horses to the UAE in the shape of United Color and Shabora and the pair add extra intrigue to a fascinating sprint clash.