MIKE de Kock’s new acquisition Johann Strauss failed by a short head to run down Ertijaal (Dubai-based) in the Listed 1400m Thoroughbred version of the HH Presidents Cup at Abu Dhabi on Sunday afternoon.
The race produced a thrilling finish with Royston Ffrench on Ertijaal, just holding on from Johan Strauss who was finishing like an express train under Pat Dobbs.
The line came just in time for French’s mount, who had taken over the lead from stable companion and last year’s winner, of this race, Nawwaar halfway up the straight.
De Kock’s second runner, Disa Leader, was another fast finisher to snatch third in a race where the first five home were separated by little more than a length.
“That last 100m seemed an awful long way,” said Ffrench. “I knew we were clear when we hit the front but was aware of horses finishing fast all round near the line.
“Mike de Kock’ horse in particular was finishing with real purpose and I was not certain we had held on. My horse and Nawwaar both like to race like that, from the front but my fellow stayed on best this time.”
Two narrow defeats made the difference between a Graded and Listed feature win at the most recent meetings in the UAE but it wasn’t to be Mike commented: “This was our second short head over the racing weekend (the other being Mubtaahij in the UAE 2000 Guineas) and it was really stiff. It could have been so different!”