THREE-year-old colt Ertijaal (AUS), made a smashing winning debut on the Polytrack at Greyville last Friday evening, winning a Maiden Plate over 1400m by 7.75-lengths in a fast 82,46s.
Jockey Anthony Delpech had to keep Ertijaal within striking distance and pushed him along for a few strides on the turn for home. Ertijaal got his mind on the job. He took the bit, came swiftly around runners to dispute the lead and with 350m to go shook off his rivals with no fuss at all.
Ertijaal, seven-and-three-quarters clear at the line.
Mike de Kock and Summerveld-based Nathan Kotzen, enjoying some refreshments at the stable’s Xmas function in Johannesburg, watched the race on Tellytrack. They were both impressed with Ertijaal, saddled by assistant trainer John Buckler, who’d stayed at the Durban base to take care of this one and the yard’s other runners this weekend.
Mike commented: “As always I don’t like to assess winners like these before they’ve confirmed their ability in decent races, but Ertijaal looks to have the right attributes. He’s a half-brother to Mushreq, who won a Gr2 for us in Dubai. Let’s hope Ertijaal can go on from here with similar progress.”
Keep an eye out for me!
Mike added that Ertijaal’s career had been delayed due to setbacks including colic surgery. He said: “We’ve had problems with a number of imported runners and South Africa’s ridiculous import regulations have much to do with it. Currently all bloodstock imports are required to spend 30 days in quarantine overseas and then another 30 days in quarantine when they land here, so they’re not moving about as they should be.
“We’ve been focusing for long on our export protocols over which we really have no say, but we should sort out the import rules first. It will be much easier. When it comes to imports our authorities can lay down the rules. There is no need whatsoever for a 30-day quarantine at the various shores of departure. Horses purchased in Australia and elsewhere can be flown in almost immediately and complete their 30 days in quarantine in South Africa.
Bred by Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud, Ertijaal’s pedigree holds plenty of promise. He is by the Danzig-stallion Hard Spun (USA) and the eighth foal produced by Alharir (x Jeune), whose progeny have generally raced well on all surfaces, winning Graded races on turf and dirt – though Mushreq himself preferred turf over the Tapeta Polytrack.
Ertijaal is Alharir’s first offspring sired by Hard Spun, a terrific top-level performer who raced only on dirt and the Polytrack, winning seven of 13 starts from 1100m to 1800m, including the Gr1 King’s Bishop over 1400m on dirt at Saratoga. He also won two Gr2 races on the Polytrack.
Hard Spun’s places included a second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (2000m) to Street Sense and he was runner-up to the star Curlin in both the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic (2000m) and the Pimlico Stakes (1900m).
As a stallion, Hard Spun has produced over 30 stakes winners to date, including G1 Wood Memorial and G2 Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong, plus Hard Not To Like, who captured the G1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland earlier this year.
He will return to Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky for the 2015 breeding season after a successful season at Sheikh Mohammed’s stallion operation in Japan this year, and stands at $US35,000.
Hard Spun, like Ertijaal, was a runaway winner of his debut, posting a 8.75-length success over 1100m at Delaware Park. He was unbeaten in two starts over 1400m and his times over the 7-furlongs (83,88s and 82,35s, 2006/7), are similar to the 82,46s clocked by his young son racing on the other side of the world, some eight years later.