Hawwaam continues his education through the starting stalls at the Vaal on Thursday where he lines up in a Pinnacles Stakes event over 1400m.
Similar to last week, this race is more about the starting stalls and the race day experience rather than a must win scenario.
Having his first run back after being scratched at the start of the Vodacom Durban July, Hawwaam behaved impeccably, loading quietly and breaking on terms. From there on it was a matter of ‘how far?’ as he showed his class by winning comfortably over a distance well short of optimum.
“To say I am relieved is an understatement,” Malan de Toit, one of the country’s best known equine behavioralists, wrote on his Facebook page after that win. “The last time this horse saw the race course was on July day in Durban. Absolute devastation!! The favourite scratched because of behavioral problems at the starting gate. Between then and now there was a lot of brain storming on what would work for him.
“Between then and today, lots and lots of work was done with him by the team comprising of Mathew de Kock, Vengi Masawi, one of team De Kock’s assistants, work riders, Anton Marcus, Ben, one of the best handlers (starter’s assistant) in Gauteng and myself.
“Today a plan came together.”
Thursday’s 1400m will be more to Hawwaam’s liking but if he behaves there should only be one result in spite of the opposition including the smart performers Cirillo and Zouaves.
A recent case of African Horse Sickness (AHS) reported in the Nietgedacht area of Gauteng early this month has put a question mark on horses moving from the Highveld to the Western Cape for their summer season but will hopefully not prevent Hawwaam lining up for the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Sun Met early next year.
Should the outbreak scupper travel plans to the Cape, the next obvious target will be Champions Season and the Vodacom Durban July.
By Andrew Harrison
Image: A relieved Malan du Toit, Anton Marcus and Mike de Kock after Hawwaam’s victory at the Vaal last week.