Hawwaam can bridge a nine-year gap for Mike de Kock in the R1.5 million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth tomorrow.
It was in 2011 that he won South Africa’s premier mile race with Mother Russia, the first – as well as the most recent – of her sex to land the Queen’s Plate since the great Empress Club 18 years earlier. Appropriately Anton Marcus, who rode them both, is also on Hawwaam as he bids for his own eighth success.
Hawwaam has looked something special ever since he made a winning debut in that historic no-whip race at Turffontein in November 2018 and he has been beaten only once in eight races since.
His suspect temperament has been well documented and is likely to be tested to the limit by all the razzmatazz on Sun Met day but tomorrow is much quieter occasion. He came through an even quieter one in the Premier Trophy, hardly turning a hair despite provocation in the form of a long delay at the start. “We are constantly working with him and Malan does a lot too,” says his trainer who believes that age and racing experience are also helping to settle the four-year-old. A negative is that four of the last six Queen’s Plate favourites have been beaten.
Second string Soqrat has had a tougher build-up than Hawwaam but he is a good horse and on last season’s Cape Guineas form he holds Twist Of Fate and One World who never runs a bad race and should not be far away.
Do It Again, one of a number treated like a boxer’s punch bag in the WSB Green Point, has been coughing since and Justin Snaith will have to have worked a near-miracle if the dual July winner is also to make it two in this race.
Rainbow Bridge had a rough time of it as well, in his case just over a furlong out, and his jockey had to stop riding. He is a tough customer, though, and he should not be far away despite a suspicion that he is better over a bit further.
However the biggest threat may come from Vardy despite his being worse off with his Green Point victims. His running that day in his first race of the season, and in his first since a knee-chip operation, was a revelation. True, he came close to losing it by hanging in – as he had done last season – but it was still quite some performance. Adam Marcus is convinced he has come on a fair bit since and Craig Zackey’s mount appears to be still improving. His Achilles heel is his trouble keeping straight under pressure.
Snaith runs three in his bid to win the Cartier Paddock Stakes for the fourth successive season, and the sixth time in all, but 15-10 favourite Front And Centre looks too talented.
De Kock has won the race four times, most recently with Mother Russia ten years ago, and his Summer Cup fourth Queen Supreme is 22-10 second favourite. The Irish-bred receives a kilo Northern Hemisphere allowance for being six months wrong but you would have to wonder if this is enough when the local three-year-olds receive 5.5kg.
A big danger at a decent price (7-1) could be Snapscan who showed signs of significant improvement when winning the Victress over this trip three weeks ago.
Champion sprinter Kasimir reappears in the Design Indaba Pinnacle but it could in the long term be more profitable to study this race rather than bet on it. However stable companion Belgarion will give you a run for your money in the Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Handicap.
Today Celtic Sea may thwart Candice Bass-Robinson’s bid to win the Cartier Sceptre Stakes for the fourth year on the trot. The Sean Tarry filly was fast enough to win the SA Fillies Sprint at Scottsville.
By Michael Clower
Image: Richard Fourie gallops DO IT AGAIN (left) with Crown Towers at Kenilworth in preparation for the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth tomorrow. (Liesl King)