MATHEW de Kock on Tuesday reported back on Ertijaal and Estidraaj, who both turned in most disappointing efforts on Classic Day at Turffontein last Saturday.
Unbeaten in four starts before the Gr1 SA Classic over 1800m, star colt Ertijaal (11-10 favourite), crossed the line 13 lengths behind French Navy after becoming one-paced with about 300m to run. He faded out tamely after leading the pack, totally out of character.
Promising Estidraaj, similarly handy in the SA Fillies Classic, cried enough at more or less the same mark and trailed in 11.75-lengths off the winner, Siren’s Call.
Estidraaj: Two below-par runs on a wet track.
Mathew said: “All we can put their below-par runs down to is the wet track condition at Turffontein. It was very sticky out there and Ertijaal and Estidraaj must have hated it. Both horses were thoroughly examined and scoped, we took blood and nothing whatsoever was found.
“Ertijaal had it all to do from his wide draw, he had to go around them to set the pace in a hot field, but we can’t offer this as an excuse, we expected much better. We all know what he is capable of, but he obviously likes fast underfoot conditions. He’s won all his starts on tracks classified as good on the day. He was fresh this morning, he looks very well.
“It is quite evident now in Estidraaj’s form line that she dislikes a soft track. Her two unplaced runs were both on soft going and markedly below her best. She’s fine too. Really the only conclusion we can draw is that the state of the track affected them both on Saturday.”
Mathew pointed out that Ertijaal and Estridaaj are both progeny of the same young sire, Hard Spun (USA), whose sire statistics arguably support Mat’s view of their track condition preference. Hard Spun himself only won on sand or polytracks, but has produced 25 stakes winners on turf, sand and synthetic tracks – all on good or firm going.
Even more interesting is Hard Spun’s percentage winners to runners. Statistics over his five seasons at stud show that he has produced 53% winners to runners, 25% on a “fast” track, 37% of those winners on “good” going and only 16% on the wet.
Mat concluded: “We could look for reasons all day but this is racing and we have to plan ahead and see what happens next. We’ll put this behind us.”
Statistics drawn from racingandsport.com.au.