ERTIJAAL STEPS UP TO GROUP 2 LEVEL
OASIS DREAM's, course and distance specialist, Ertijaal justified his position as the early favourite for the Gr.1 Al Quoz Sprint with a score in yesterday's (22nd February) Gr.3 Meydan Sprint.
Taken from the Thoroughbred Daily News, 23rd February 2018
Godolphin's Blue Point put in a bold late showing to suggest he will be a serious threat when the distance is upped a furlong for the Al Quoz. Ertijaal tracked fellow Sheikh Hamdan representative Fityaan through the opening three furlongs, but took up the running as they joined the course proper with Blue Point right on his heels. Asked to stretch by Jim Crowley passing the 400, Ertijaal lengthened and briefly looked as if he would outclass his four rivals, but he wandered to the inside rail as Blue Point began to wind up under William Buick. Blue Point ran the margin down to a neck on the line but Ertijaal stuck on bravely. "He was on his toes a bit in the stalls and actually missed the break a little bit, but was soon in that amazing rhythm he has," Crowley said. "I was always happy on him and we knew Blue Point, who is a very good sprinter himself, would be staying on.When my horse is challenged, I know he is going to find plenty for pressure and that is what happened."
A fixture at this carnival over the last four years since joining local champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, Ertijaal made little noise until 2016, when he was kept exclusively to the minimum distance. After winning a pair of handicaps he was second by three-quarters of a length to Australian star Buffering in the Al Quoz Sprint when it was contested over 1000 metres, and after Ertijaal won both starts at the trip at last year's carnival, including this race, connections must have been dismayed that the trip of the Al Quoz was increased.
Date: 23 February 2018