THERE was joy and happiness in the winner’s enclosure after Flying The Flag did exactly that for South Africa in the Al Naboodah Construction Group Trophy over 2000m on turf at Meydan, Thursday evening.
A number of South Africans were on course to support Mike de Kock’s runners and they had to endure a nailbiter at the end of the meeting in which jockey Johnny Geroudis got Flying The Flag (7-1) up in the last stride to win by neck from the favourite, Thai’ir.
Johnny G drives Flying The Flag (brown cap) home. Is that the SA Flag above the chestnut’s head?
Photographer Perry Como Jr. was on hand to snap a few pics in the winner’s enclosure and Mike told: “Dr Haroon Dharsey and I hosted a Business Council Meeting here tonight and the SA Ambassador to Dubai as well as the Consular General attended and raced with us. Haroon has been involved in negotiations about export protocol and I’d say we’re making progress.”
Also in attendance were Form Bloodstock’s Jehan Malherbe, Bryn Ressell and JJ van der Linden, who will be flying out with Mike to Melbourne on Friday to attend the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
Spot those who have beaten anorexia! Posing for a photo with Flying The Flag is JJ van der Linden (left), “Leroy” Brown, Mike de Kock, Jehan Malherbe and Bryn Ressell.
Jet-setting Geroudis would probably have made the trip too had he not been engaged to ride Anjaal for the stable in Saturday’s Gr 2 Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein. Since he only swings his leg over runners with chances these days, do keep a close eye on Anjaal.
Geroudis seemed a length or two out of his ground coming to the final bend on Flying The Flag after he’d been edged out wide, presumably by the Irish jockeys who’d mistaken him for a Leprechaun. He shook up his mount in time, only to receive a bump from Belgian Bill and having to shift out to the middle of the track to unwind his mount for a powerful finish.
Flying The Flag, incidentally, is an Irish-bred five-year-old by Galileo from a Pivotal mare. Geroudis said after the race: “We were very happy with Flying The Flag’s last run. I watched his run in the Derby when he was trained by Aiden (O’Brien), and that seemed too far for him but tonight’s 2000m was perfect. We had to work for it, but he won a good race.”
Mike congratulated Mary and Jessica Slack, Michael Javett and partners on this exciting and overdue win and said about this season’s Dubai campaign: “Some of our new South African runners just haven’t clicked here in Dubai and with all the racing on dirt we haven’t yet matched our winning tally of previous years, but our horses tend to peak towards the end of the carnival and we have a few good ones yet to race.”
Judging by their looks, the stable’s aces will be coming to hand at precisely the right time. Shahrasal, Johann Strauss and Darwin, in particular, looked sharp, fit and shiny and Sharasal’s groom, “Osama”, received his second successive prize for the best-turned out runner.
Mike commented: “I have a feeling Sharasal doesn’t really enjoy the dirt so she ran a cracker in second to Local Time. The others ran well too. Mastermind did exceptionally well in getting second from his draw. Johann Strauss and Darwin got close up and shared fourth, earning stakes and they have more to come.”