South Africa are readying themselves to embrace a new equine hero in the Mike De Kock-trained Hawwaam, who cantered to victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and now has his eyes on the Vodacom Durban July.
The Silvano colt arrived in Durban as a twice Grade 1 winner, of the SA Classic over 1800m and the Premier’s Champions Challenge over 2000m, both at Turffontein, but he still had something to prove in the Daily News as he was up against the toughest opposition he had faced to date in the form of Twist Of Fate.
The latter, merit rated four points lower than Hawwaam on 117, had the run of the race as he went to the front and led at a comfortable pace and then got a tow from Zillzaaal from the 1100m mark onward.
Meanwhile, Hawwaam had missed the break and his plan to lead was out the window. He followed Zillzaaal but when that one went to the front he was trapped one wide without cover. This did not phase him as he continued to relax and Anton Marcus then edged him forward to join Zillzaaal.
In the straight the top class Twist Of Fate’s chase was always in vain.
Out in front Marcus rode hands and heels. He said later this was in order to keep him straight and he might have been thinking of his mount in the previous race, Front And Centre, whose hanging antics might have cost her victory in the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000.
Hawwaam looked to have something in hand when crossing the line 1,60 lengths clear. There was a further 4,90 lengths back to the rank outsider Capoeira, an 81 merit rated horse who proved the decision to supplement him had been worthwhile.
De Kock said if it was up to him Hawwaam would line up in the July, but the final decision will rest with owner Sheik Hamdan and his racing manager Angus Gold.
Hawwaam will carry 56kg in the July if his merit rating stays unchanged on 121. If he does get a raise the very most he can carry is 57kg, the maximum weight for a three-year-old male.
De Kock said Hawwaam had now proved himself against the best and pointed out his big heart, as it was the second time he had won without the race panning out in his favour. He said he was on his way to being rated alongside the like of Vercingetorix and Variety Club, whom he said were the last “proper” horses he had trained.
Anton Marcus said it had been a win full of merit and he believed in a couple of months’ time “the world could be this horse’s Oyster.”
.Marcus is contracted to ride Hawwaam’s half-brother Rainbow Bridge in the July. Gavin Lerena seems the likely replacement as he was aboard Hawwaam for his SA Classic win. However, it will depend on whether any Wilgerbosdrift Stud or Mauritzfontein Stud-owned horses are in the big race as Lerena is retained by them.
Hawwaam has shortened into 2,35/1 for the July with Track And Ball and Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge have now drifted out to 5/1 apiece.
Hawwaam was the second Grade 1 winner of the day to be by Silvano out of a Jet Master mare.
Earlier the Justin Snaith-trained Silvano’s Pride had led from start to finish to win the Woolavington 2000 under Richard Fourie. This horse has always led in his races or at least been handy due to her tendency to take a keen hold. However, Snaith said in the build up to this race he had been working on this problem and as it happened the strongly built filly settled well in front and dictated at a good gallop. She kicked well in the straight and it was going to take a good one to catch her. The 21/10 favourite Front And Centre made a storming run from second last but unfortunately hung all the way from the outside to the inside despite Marcus’s efforts. She was only 0,3 lengths shy at the line of the 16/1 chance winner so this antic might have cost her the race. The progressive Blossom ran on well for third ahead of Seville Orange and the twice Grade 1-winner Return Flight.
Silvano’s Pride did not attract a bid at the sales and has therefore been raced by breeder Anthony Peter.
Snaith said in the post race interview how disappointed he had been by Bunker Hunt’s scratching in the Daily News as he believed this one would also have caused an upset.
Earlier, the Grade 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m saw the former Sean Tarry-trained Summer Cup winner Liege bouncing back to his best. He won comfortably under Raymond Danielson from Gimme One Night and Silver Rose. The step up in trip appears to have been the key to this horse.
By David Thiselton