Hawwaam is odds-on for the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth on Saturday yet you can get 6-1 about stable companion Soqrat who is rated a kilo higher. Is Hawwaam in fact the better horse?
“It’s hard to say,” answered Mike de Kock, the one man in a position to know, when the question was put to him yesterday. “Soqrat’s record is very hard to fault but my gut feel is that Hawwaam is a better horse and in terms of preparation Hawwaam is probably also better. Soqrat has had three hard runs in Jo’burg although I have freshened him up coming into this race.”
Asked about the dangers, the eight-time champion trainer said: “My horses have had to travel and, although they have settled in very well and look well, the opposition have all been trained at home which gives them that slight edge.”
However he did single out Rainbow Bridge. “I respect him a lot. He beat Soqrat in the Champions Cup, he is 2kg better with Vardy and he looks to me if he is peaking at the right time.”
Rainbow Bridge is second only to Do It Again on merit ratings but Eric Sands, perhaps typically, takes a realistic view of the Sun Met winner’s chances and says: “A mile is not his game but he is always competitive, he has come on since the Green Point and he is definitely fitter.”
Hampered by Vardy
Gavin Lerena’s mount was badly hampered by Vardy at a crucial stage in the WSB Grade 2 and his jockey had to stop riding for several strides – although the trainer seems to feel that the 20-week absence also played its part: “It looked like he was still travelling with a lot in hand but he then seemed to come to a stop on the amount of work I’d given him. Also his recovery rate afterwards was a bit on the high side.”
In common with Do It Again, Vardy and the pacemaking Crown Towers this will be the horse’s second run after a rest and, historically at least, that could be a negative. “In the Durban season he ran a bit below par in the Gold Challenge which was his second run back but I will have him a little fresher and hopefully we can tick a few boxes.”
Sands also has a serious contender in the Cartier Paddock Stakes in the form of the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas runner-up Driving Miss Daisy. “She is a very difficult filly to assess because she shows you nothing at home but, from the point of view of well-being, she seems to be very happy and that is normally what counts with her. I’m not worried about the extra furlong but taking on the older horses over the trip is always one’s first question but she has shown she has the ability.”
De Kock also mentioned One World who was third to Soqrat in last season’s Cape Guineas and has won nine out of 12. He is available at 16-1. “That’s a huge price,” says Vaughan Marshall. “He has to be right there (on that Guineas form), he has done well since his econd in the Green Point and I have been very happy with his progress.”
Pack Leader’s chance at 75-1
Only 150-1 shot Crown Towers is a bigger price than Pack Leader, a 75-1 chance despite finishing fourth in the Green Point, and Glen Kotzen said: “Obviously it is a very competitive races but he has really come on since that last run, his second after a break. I think this could be his best distance and we are excited about him running.”
The bookies believe he has a much better chance with impressive Victress Stakes winner Snapscan (7-1 third favourite) in the Cartier Paddock. “She is a top filly in really good shape and on her day she can really fly. It would be a great pleasure to win the race for Gaynor Rupert and her partners.”
Tomorrow there will be a lot of interest in whether Candice Bass-Robinson can win the Cartier Sceptre Stakes for the fourth successive year. She has five of the 14 runners headed by last year’s winner Clouds Unfold who was only sixth on her reappearance in the Southern Cross.
“I don’t really know what to make of that but it was a funny race. She has definitely come on from it and this should be a much better run race,” says the Milnerton trainer. “I’ve got a nice hand of fillies in it including Freedom Charter who was third last year and is doing well. But Clouds is obviously the best one and she has a big chance if she is back to her best.”
By Michael Clower