With market leaders Ertijaal and Limato being good-ground performers, chances of an upset in Saturday’s $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) rose in tandem with the heavy rains pelting Meydan. French shipper The Right Man took full advantage, striking the front with a well-timed move and just lasting from American Long on Value.
The Right Man had soft-ground form, most significantly as the winner of last November’s Prix de Seine-et-Oise (G3), and as runner-up to Suedois as a sophomore in the 2015. Third to Jungle Cat in his local tune-up in the March 4 Nad al Sheba Sprint, the Didier Guillemin gelding improved for that reappearance.
Ertijaal went forward early according to script, but could not achieve his usual separation from the pack in the conditions. He began to labor in the fifth furlong, before the question of a sixth furlong came into play.
The Right Man was well placed by regular rider Francois-Xavier Bertras, who had him perched just behind Ertijaal throughout. Slicing between Ertijaal and California-based Richard’s Boy, The Right Man quickened to the lead.
The Bill Mott-trained Long on Value produced a dynamic late run from last and nearly got there, in the best-ever Al Quoz performance by a U.S. shipper. But the Right Man stuck his head out gamely and reached for the wire, finishing in 1:09.59.
Ertijaal saved third by a nose from Jungle Cat. Richard’s Boy was a hard-trying fifth, followed by Hong Kong’s Amazing Kids and Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC. Limato was spinning his wheels much of the way before checking in 10th of 12.
Quotes from Dubai Racing Club
Winning trainer Didier Guillemin (via translator): “I was very emotional because it was an honor to be invited. To have such a finish and win it is absolutely amazing. We’re very proud of the horse. When he finished third here, we were very happy with that result and even happier that he’s won here tonight.
“Twenty years ago I would never imagine I’d win a Grade 1 here. This is an amazing achievement in my career. The horse is going to Hong Kong next if he’s well and then maybe Royal Ascot.
Winning rider Francois-Xavier Bertras: “I was always confident. I knew in the prep race that the horse was not 100 percent fit and would come on from that. I got a good position (behind Ertijaal) and my horse was very brave right to the end. You live your life for moments like this.”
Assistant trainer Riley Mott on near-misser Long on Value: “We’re speechless. To come over here, halfway across the world, and compete with the top sprinters on the globe, we are just absolutely thrilled. I know it’s a loss, but it feels like a win. The owners were true sportsmen to bring him over here and he did not let us down whatsoever.”
Jockey Joel Rosario on Long on Value: “In the beginning everything went OK but I had to check back at a crucial stage and lost a bit of ground. I had a nice run through the closing stages. I thought for a second I might get there but the horse on the inside kept on running.”
Jockey Jim Crowley on third-placer Ertijaal: “We traveled well but didn’t pick up in the softer ground like he normally does. It’s a shame the rain came. It was still a good run under the conditions. The ground and the longer trip have got him beat.”
Jockey William Buick on fourth-placer Jungle Cat: “That ground just inconvenienced him a little bit. He usually finishes his races very strongly but on that kind of course it just blunted him a little bit.”
Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. on fifth-placer Richard’s Boy: “This horse usually breaks very well and he didn’t break today. He was turning his head right before the gates opened – he turned three or four times – and it really cost him at least a position, a big check. He completely got left. If he had broken well, he would have been on top and been in control of the race. I had to ask him a little, and usually I wouldn’t have to. The start cost us a big portion of this race.”
Jockey Harry Bentley on Limato, 10th: “The ground was a bit too loose. Especially three furlongs out when you get onto that ground that horses have already run on in previous races on the straight. It felt really loose and it’s not his conditions at all. He wants quicker ground than this.”