A Successful Classic Day At Turffontein For SAFbreds

Return Flight (Pomodoro) wins her second career Gr1. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Hawwaam hammered his rivals in the Grade 1 SA Classic at Turffontein, cruising in by 5.75 lengths at the end of the 1800m contest.

Gavin Lerena employed little more than hands and heels as the Mike de Kock-trained son of Silvano streaked away from stable companion Barahin, with SA Guineas victor National Park finishing third. It was a terrific 1-2 double for breeders Mauritzfontein & Wilgerbosdrift who bred both Hawwaam and Barahin, the latter who has a sibling headed to the BSA National Yearling Sale in April.

Hawwaam, second in the Guineas after jumping from a wide draw and being slowly away, put the record straight in no uncertain manner and racing fans will now be hoping to see him lining up in the third leg of the Triple Crown, the SA Derby in three weeks’ time.

Assistant trainer Mathew de Kock said Hawwaam’s immediate future plans had not been decided yet. He described the win as “very impressive” and thanked the training team for their hard work in preparing the hard-pulling Hawwaam for this outing.

Lerena said it was “an amazing win”.

“I saw Richard Fourie and National Park looming up. But when I gave him a squeeze inside the 300m he immediately responded and showed what he is made of,” said the former champion jockey.

Hawwaam was backed into 11-10 at the start, with Barahin at 3-1 and National Park at 4-1.

From a good start, Approach Control seized the initiative ahead of Alyaasaat, who appeared to be the De Kock pacemaker. From his No 5 gate, Hawwaam secured a decent cruising position in midfield, just ahead of National Park, who jumped from No 7.

In the straight, Hawwaam moved smoothly forward to the head of affairs, with National Park and Barahin shadowing. But when things got serious, there was only one horse in it.

The newest superstar of the South African turf has now won four of his five starts. His dam, Wilgerbosdrift mare Halfway To Heaven must surely be a strong contestant for Broodmare Of The Year, her other son by Ideal World being Gr1 Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge.

In the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic, Return Flight led all the way to score a courageous victory, holding off a determined challenge from 26-10 favourite Nafaayes, under Warren Kennedy for the Mike de Kock yard..

Brilliantly ridden by Anton Marcus, the daughter of Pomodoro started as second favourite at odds of 4-1 for the second leg of the Triple Tiara series for three-year-old fillies.

When Return Flight started hanging in slightly in the closing stages of the 1800m contest, Marcus expertly got her balanced again and lunging for the line to beat Nafaayes by 0.80 lengths.

Blossom (16-1) ran on strongly from well back to claim third place, just ahead of Storm Destiny (12-1)

Winning trainer Sean Tarry described Return Flight as “special” and said connections had been disappointed she was forced to miss the first leg of the Tiara, the Gauteng Fillies Guineas last month.

Nafaayes won that race, so the bonus prize for the Triple Tiara will not be won this year.

Return Flight is by her owner Chris van Niekerk’s Durban July hero Pomodoro and passed through a yearling sales ring for just R20,000.

The R781,250 first prize here pushed her earnings to more than R1.4 million. It was her fourth victory in her ninth start and her second Grade 1 title, following her triumph in the Thekwini Stakes as a juvenile.

Zouaves caused a big upset in the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes at Turffontein, flying up from the rear of the field to overhaul well-fancied Cascapedia and Soqrat in the final 50m.

The five-year-old son of Sail From Seattle started at odds of 16-1 for veteran trainer Geoff Woodruff.

Ecstatic winning jockey Marco van Rensburg said: “It’s an honour for me to win on this horse! He is full of heart and I’ve loved him from day one!”

The Mike de Kock-trained Soqrat was a hot-pot 3-7 favourite following his heroics in Cape Town in recent months. With 200m to run, the Australian-bred son of Epaulette hit the front and looked like he had the race at his mercy.

But stable companion Cascapedia ranged up alongside him – and suddenly she looked the likely winner.

But neither of them had any answer to Zouaves as Van Rensburg drove him out of the pack and snatched the honours in impressive style.

Zouaves was drawn widest of the 13 runners and compounded the disadvantage by missing the break at the 1400m start. He was in the rear-guard as the field swung into the turn, with Arabian Beat and Captain Aldo setting the pace. Soqrat was handy in fourth place, two lengths off the pace.

In the straight, Soqrat quickly moved up and appeared to be cruising. Cascapedia (9-1 second favourite) looked the only threat – until Zouaves appeared on the scene.

It was the gelding’s seventh victory from 21 starts and the R250,000 first prize pushed his career earnings to nearly R1 million.


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