Going 1200m on the turf straight of Meydan, the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments had the potential to deliver an exciting finish.
On Saturday afternoon it outdid itself when French-trained The Right Man (GB) held on by a diminishing nose over American invader Long On Value (USA) in a thrilling finish in a swift 1.09.59.
Ridden by Francois-Xavier Bertras in the colours of Pegase Bloodstock, the son of Lope de Vega won for the ninth time in 17 starts, and at the top level for the first time. Previously he was a Group 3 victor in France last November.
It was another length and a quarter back to the Bill Mott-trained runner-up , with Ertijaal (IRE) in third. Multiple European Group 1 winner Limato (IRE) and highly regarded Hong Kong gelding Amazing Kids (NZ) failed to factor.
The Right Man prepped for the Al Quoz with a course and distance try in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint earlier in the month, finishing third behind Jungle Cat (IRE), who finished a nose behind Ertijaal in fourth.
“I was always confident,” Bertrand said. “I knew in the prep race that the horse was not 100 per cent 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.”
Guillemin added through a translator: “I was very emotional because it was an honour 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 have never thought we would come here and win a Group 1,” Guillemin continued. “It’s absolutely majestic. I would like to thank the organisers. It’s fabulous what they do here.”
Guillemin confirmed that travelling to Hong Kong and possibly Royal Ascot are on the docket for his five-year-old bay gelding.
Riley Mott, assistant to trainer and father Bill Mott, was overjoyed with the the effort of Long On Value, whose finish was the best in Al Quoz Sprint history by an American horse. Previously, Stateside-conditioned contestants had finished third twice, with California Flag (USA) in 2010 and Green Mask (USA) in 2015.
“We're speechless,” Mott said. “To come over here, half-way 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."
Quotes for Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments
Francois-Xavier Bertras (jockey, The Right Man (GB) 1st) – “This is what we live for. Ertijaal took me along for a long way which helped. The horse was brave and that helped him win the race. I actually was quite confident because he wasn’t 100 per cent fir for his prep race and I knew he’d improve.”
Didier Guillemin, trainer – “20 years ago I would never imagine I’d win a Grade 1 here. This is an amazing achievement in my career. The horse ran well last time in his prep race. The horse is going to Hong Kong next if he’s well and then maybe Royal Ascot.”
Joel Rosario (jockey, Long On Value (USA) 2nd) – “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.”
Riley Mott (assistant trainer to his father Bill): “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."
Jim Crowley (jockey, Ertijaal (IRE) 3rd) – “We travelled 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.”
William Buick (jockey, Jungle Cat (IRE) 4th) – “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.”
Norberto Arroyo (jockey, Richard's Boy (USA) 5th) – “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.”
Joao Moreira (jockey, Amazing Kids (NZ) 6th) – "It wasn't a bad run but he is still very inexperienced and that's what got him beat.”
Ryan Moore (jockey, Washington DC (IRE) 7th) – “He ran very well. I was very happy with him. Lovely trip, he ran great. He was faster in the end.”
Pat Dobbs, (jockey, Final Venture (GB) 8th) – “He jumped a bit slow. Jim Crowley (aboard Ertijaal) came over into my lane and we were going too fast early.”
Adrie de Vries (jockey, Medicean Man (GB) 9th) – “I had a good trip following some nice horses. But he’s just not quite good enough for these sort of races anymore.”
Harry Bentley (jockey, Limato (IRE) 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.”
Colm O'Donoghue (jockey, Baccarat (IRE) 11th) – ““He broke well and travelled good throughout. The surface is a felt a little bit soft and he usually has a better kick than that."
Christophe Soumillon (jockey, Finsbury Square (IRE) 12th) – “He jumped alright but he stumbled from behind two times. I don’t know what happened. I gave him a chance but he didn’t have the move he usually has.”
Source: Dubai Racing Club