A look of incredulity was still on Bobby El-Issa’s face when he brought Greyt Intentions back to scale after the running of the second race at Gatton … not because the grey had just won his first race at his thirty-seventh start, but because, like everyone else at the track, El-Issa was still trying to process what had just happened in the last couple of strides of the race approaching the finish line.
It was a very weak maiden field, but El-Issa had given Greyt Intentions a perfect ride, saving ground along the inside and producing his mount at exactly the right time to have the result well under control over the last 100m.
Approaching the line though, the perfect run could have turned into a catastrophe when Greyt Intentions, without any warning, suddenly jumped the shadow of the winning post, going high in the air and landed with a heavy jolt, but still he managed to cling on to claim his first victory.
Either of those movements … the jump and the landing, which all happened in a split second … could easily have dislodged El-Issa from the saddle, but the seasoned rider remained firmly in place to ensure that the story had a happy ending for all concerned.
“I wouldn’t call it skill on the part of jockeys when things like that happen” said El-Issa. “It’s more instinct and in circumstances like those you just have to go with the horse, I guess.
‘When he went up in the air I automatically went down and grabbed his mane and the breast-plate and just stayed with the horse and went with him. His head did go down very low when he landed and it would have been easy for me to go over the top if I was not going with the horse but, in the end, we got our win.
“I had a bit of a giggle when I saw people telling me on social media that I should be a jumps jockey at Warrnambool, but that is one thing I have never let into my mind … being a jumps jockey. That is scary.
“I don’t know how those jumps jockeys do it. They deserve more credit than they get.”
For now though, El-issa can be well pleased with his one ‘air hurdle’ and his contribution to Grey Intentions long overdue win.