THIS photo shows the finish of Saturday’s Gr1 Jebel Hatta over 1800m on turf at Meydan, and the Irish-bred-star Tryster, racing for the Godolphin team, recording his ninth win at the expense of Farrier and Mike de Kock’s Ertijaal, near the rail in third.
Ertijaal’s third sport was the best-placed for the stable on a disappointing afternoon, a meeting Mike described as “one of those tough days at the office”.
While Mike was pleased with Ertijaal’s run, he noted that it may not have been good enough to guarantee the four-year-old a berth in the Gr1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night. “One has to be realistic. Ertijaal ran a good race, he couldn’t do better. He is probably not good enough to have beaten a horse like Tryster. He got within three lengths of the winner but whether that will be good enough to get into the Dubai Turf, which will be an even stronger race, we’ll have to see.”
Mubtaahij was beaten 7.50-lengths into fourth behind surprise winner Special Fighter in the Gr1 Al Maktoum Challenge, Round 3 over 2000m on dirt. Well-fancied, he appeared to be travelling smoothly under Christophe Soumillon in third, a few lengths off the pace, but the leaders bounced away with surprising ease as they straightened and nothing ran on to challenge them.
Mike commented: “We expected to fight out the finish with Mubtaahij today, to get into the first three at the very least, so this was disappointing. He was moving well in the race and then appeared to hit a flat spot after the bend, before staying on again late.
“I have to say though, that runners drawn off the rail today had little chance of winning. Whatever turned on the lead or handy got away to win, unchallenged. Arguably, the first two past the post in the Maktoum Round 3 didn’t have the exposed quality of form to be considered as dangers before the race, yet they beat us comfortably. There was a clear track bias which makes it really hard for me to make an accurate assessment of this result.”
Mike concluded: “Make no mistake, Mubtaahij didn’t perform as we expected him to perform, but there is still room for improvement. He will need to improve a lot before 26 March, but I still believe he will be in the first four in the Dubai World Cup, he is better than this. What happens on Super Saturday is not guaranteed to be repeated on World Cup night. We have a few weeks to go, we’ll knuckle down and do the work that has to be done.”