THE merits of Ertijaal’s win in Sunday’s Sea Cottage Stakes over 1800m on the inside track at Turffontein goes beyond the fact that he remains unbeaten to date or that he has progressed from his Maiden win to a Listed success in only three starts.
Assistant trainer Mathew de Kock, relieved as much as delighted after Ertijaal (8-10 favourite) had kicked on well over the last 200m to win going away under Gavin Lerena, said that the stable felt plenty of pressure coming into the race, the public’s eye and betting support weighing perhaps least of all.
Ertijaal did what he had to do, at the time he had to do it. There’s more improvement to come. (JC Photos)
Mathew told: “It was a nightmare between this run and his last run. Ertijaal missed a lot of work prior to the Sea Cottage Stakes and we were in two minds whether to run him, but we had to because of our plans to go to the Cape Derby at the end of the month.
“Ertijaal is not suited to the tight inside track and for him to come and win a race like this after his interrupted preparation against some decent three-year-olds says a lot. He is way above average.”
Gavin Lerena was thoroughly professional in his handling of Ertijaal. The jock kept his cool when Ertijaal appeared flatfooted halfway down the home run – he was easy on the stick and nudged him along and into the right gear in good time.
Ertijaal, by former US Triple Crown contender Hard Spun, was bred and is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai – who also races Redoute’s Choice colt Mutamakkin, another promising three-year-old and a second winner for Lerena in Race 8 over 1600m.
Mathew commented: “Mutamakkin is a talented horse, like Ertijaal, and he also wasn’t course suited. We were disappointed in his previous run so we fitted him with blinkers and he won a nice race. Mutamakkin dropped in merit class, but the second horse Silver Scooter has some good form, including places to the feature campaigner Sovereign Mint.”
Mutamakkin: No sweat, comfortable win in blinkers. (JC Photos).