Passing Of Nadeson Park Stud’s Hassen Adams

Passing Of Nadeson Park Stud’s Hassen Adams

A family man and well-known champion of the underprivileged, an international businessman of repute, a leading breeder and owner, and the man who brought champion sire Gimmethegreenlight to South Africa, Dr Hassen Adams passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 71 on Wednesday in Cape Town.

Born into poverty in Cape Town’s District Six, Hassen Adams was selling newspapers on the winter streets of the Mother City before he was ten years old.

But with the trademark courage that saw him win many boardroom battles in the years ahead, he went on to overcome the challenges to become a business leader in South Africa.

A J&B Met and L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winning owner, Hassen Adams retired from business life in January 2020, leaving a legacy not only of financial astuteness, but of empowering people and community involvement.

Among the many key positions he held was as chairperson of GrandWest Casino Ltd, executive chair of Burger King South Africa, director of Gold Circle, director of Cape Town Fish Market, and director of Afriserve.

It was in 1997 that Hassen Adams started building an empire, when he founded GPI. The founding shareholders (more than 20000 of them), largely from disenfranchised communities, invested seed capital of R28 million.

Hassen said that it was ‘a meagre R28m’. “It has paid back more than 150 times. I’m proud of what we could do for the ordinary people.”

Talking of stepping down in 2020, he said: “I have done my job. I have had a major send off at Grand Parade Investments and it’s an amazing feeling to know that I allowed people who were never part of the mainstream economy to be part of it. We established a BEE income before that was a word in our vocabulary and nobody has been denied.”

His first equine venture was Damascus Stud farm. They bred Sleek Machine, which was sold for R500 and nearly won the Durban July.

James Lightheart was his first trainer and saddled his first winner.

“Thatching’s Fire was a filly I owned and she won me six races. I eventually sold her to the Becks. I also, by fluke, bought into Russian Fox and as time went on I got involved with trainers all over the country,” he said in an interview with the Sporting Post in 2022.

Reflecting on a life lived to the full, he said:

“I’ve enjoyed my journey and my work in the community. Humility is important in my life and I feel you must never act rich; you must act wealthy – to invest in people and be selfless.In life one needs largeness – I don’t need negative energy and one needs to always be cognisant of acting unselfishly.”

On horseracing, he said that this tough industry would always be the Sport of Kings.

“Without the top 10 owners you wouldn’t have a sport. It was difficult in the beginning, but I have been relatively successful.”

In October 2023 Hassen Adams suffered a personal setback for his Nadeson Park Stud when a flood sowed a path of destruction through Hermanus and the magnificent Hemel ‘N Aarde valley on a black Monday that brought the curtain down on the Heritage Day long weekend.

In February of this year, he was devastated to learn of the passing of his friend and former trainer Darryl Hodgson.

“Life pulled us apart. We were planning on a reunion. I am devastated that it never happened. Darryl was a quiet man and a great horseman. I hope horseracing will remember him with the respect he deserves,” he told the Sporting Post.

A beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle and brother, Dr Hassen Adams will forever be remembered in the corridors of corporate power and the annals of South African racing history as a serious competitor, a dealmaker and a gamechanger.

We extend our sincere condolences to Dr Adams’ family and his friends, at this very sad time.


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