Trainer Mike De Kock sent a booming Investec Cape Derby warning to his colleagues as his unbeaten Australian-bred colt Ertijaal stormed to an impressive last gasp victory in the R150 000 Listed Sea Cottage Stakes at Turffontein on Sunday.
Unbeaten in three starts, the Hard Spun chestnut, a half-brother to the well-performed Mushreq, had won his first two by a collective 15,50 lengths and showed great character at 8 to 10 from a poor draw to get up and beat Mike Azzie’s longshot Deputy Jud by a half-length in a time of 109,40 secs.
Gavin Lerena rode a magnificently judged race from off the gallop and he and De Kock were to go on and register the double in the same silks, when another 3yo in Mutamakkin won the last race going away at even money.
The lightly raced Ertijaal only made his debut at the end of November on the Greyville polytrack. He has won 3 from 3 for earnings of R187 500.
His career was delayed due to setbacks, including colic surgery and assistant Mathew De Kock said after Sunday’s feature that it had been a rush to get him ready (and qualified) for the Cape classic on Met day.
Mike De Kock said recently: “We’ve had problems with a number of imported runners and South Africa’s ridiculous import regulations have much to do with it. Currently all bloodstock imports are required to spend 30 days in quarantine overseas and then another 30 days in quarantine when they land here, so they’re not moving about as they should be.
“We’ve been focusing for long on our export protocols over which we really have no say, but we should sort out the import rules first. It will be much easier. When it comes to imports our authorities can lay down the rules. There is no need whatsoever for a 30-day quarantine at the various shores of departure. Horses purchased in Australia and elsewhere can be flown in almost immediately and complete their 30 days in quarantine in South Africa.
Bred by Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud, Ertijaal’s pedigree holds plenty of promise.
He is by the Danzig-stallion Hard Spun (USA) and the eighth foal produced by Alharir (x Jeune), whose progeny have generally raced well on all surfaces, winning Graded races on turf and dirt – though Mushreq himself preferred turf over the Tapeta Polytrack.
Ertijaal is Alharir’s first offspring sired by Hard Spun, a terrific top-level performer who raced only on dirt and the Polytrack, winning seven of 13 starts from 1100m to 1800m, including the Gr1 King’s Bishop over 1400m on dirt at Saratoga. He also won two Gr2 races on the Polytrack.
Hard Spun’s places included a second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (2000m) to Street Sense and he was runner-up to the star Curlin in both the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic (2000m) and the Pimlico Stakes (1900m).
As a stallion, Hard Spun has produced over 30 stakes winners to date, including Gr1 Wood Memorial and Gr2 Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong, plus Hard Not To Like, who captured the Gr1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in early 2014.
Hard Spun, like Ertijaal, was a runaway winner of his debut, posting a 8.75-length success over 1100m at Delaware Park.
He was unbeaten in two starts over 1400m and his times over the 1400m (83,88 secs and 82,35 secs, 2006/7), are similar to the 82,46 secs clocked by his young son racing on the other side of the world, some eight years later, on debut.
Ertijaal looks very exciting!