RACING through the 400m mark of Saturday’s Gr1 Premiers Champions Challenge over 2000m at Turffontein, Anton Marcus was all but posing on star colt Hawwaam (7-15 favourite). The three-year-old was about to sweep into the lead on a tight rein, and his rival runners were well off the bit.
In the next 200m, prompted by a shoulder tap, Hawwaam swiftly disposed of Zillzaal, a lone early challenger. Shortly after that, Marcus started eyeing the racetrack’s big screen to see if there was anything needed to fend off late flyers, but no effort was required at all.
Hawwaam stretched away stylishly to win, untouched with the whip and four lengths clear at the line. The margin could’ve been double that had the rider so desired. Cascapedia ran on for second, with Divine Odyssey plugging away in third and Legal Eagle just edging Dark Moon Rising out of fourth.
“I don’t often get to say this but I’m at a loss for words,” remarked Marcus on his return to the winner’s enclosure. “That really was impressive.”
Race caller Alistair Cohen enthused, “From South Africa to the world, this is special!”, a natural suggestion that Hawwaam is a horse for the global stage.
Mike and Mathew de Kock have indeed both described Hawwaam as horse with serious international potential and he understandably has South Africa’s racing fanatics falling at his feet.
Whether we’ll see him on an overseas track soon is unlikely, however, and for the time being we can enjoy watching the development of a colt that could well be in the class of Horse Chestnut, De Kock’s erstwhile superstar.
Mike de Kock, in somewhat cautious fashion, assessed, “Look, Hawwaam only beat a 107 and a 105 today we’d like to see him against a stronger field,” but the eight-times champion trainer was visibly excited and he’s well aware of what he has on his hands.
He said: “There was a bit of pressure on today, it’s never easy for a three-year-old to take on older horses at weight for age. Well done to the programmers, who moved dates so we could see a top three-year-old against the older ones, it’s a spectacle everyone likes to see.”
De Kock added that Hawwaam was “a man, a horse who wants to be boss!” He praised his team for spending a lot of time around the colt and addressing “a few quirks”.
Hawwaam and stable companion Soqrat will be entered for the Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge, the Gr1 Champions Cup and the Gr1 Daily News. “We’ll be looking at the draws. Greyville has become a bit of a go-cart track. We made a mistake last night racing Soqrat from a wide draw (in the KZN Guineas) and we won’t make the same mistake again.”
Hawwaam is a son of Silvano and Halfway to Heaven (Jet Master), a half-brother to Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge (Ideal World). They were raised at Mary Slack’s Wilgerbosdrift Stud and in both we have the almost limitless kind of thoroughbred potential we haven’t seen in local ranks in years.
Sheikh Hamdan’s runner boasts five wins from six starts and R4,39-million in earnings.