Jack Milner: In a couple of months’ time, the world will be this horse’s oyster.
That is how jockey Anton Marcus interpreted Hawwaam’s win in Saturday’s R2-million Daily News 2000.
Hawwaam was sent off 7-20 favourite for the Grade 1 race over 2000m at Greyville and ran out a comfortable 1.60-length winner over Twist Of Fate with 5.90 lengths back to third-placed Capoeira with Zillzaal in fourth.
“You’ve got to be impressed with him,” added Marcus. “People look at the form and they assume it’s an absolute gimme, but it’s never a gimme when you’re taking on a horse like Twist Of Fate. In the book he is only rated four pounds inferior and I’ve won on him so this was a win full of merit.”
Marcus is on the button because things certainly did not go Hawwaam’s way. As the gates opened he threw his head up and gave away some ground and then, as usual, he started to pull a little.
The pace, with just seven runners in the field was an absolute crawl, something that would not have suited a horse who is a proven stayer. However, that is why you want somebody of Marcus’ calibre aboard your runner.
“He’s come out of racing at Turffontein which has a long straight, but they have still been going relatively early on him. The pace was just ordinary so I thought I wasn’t going to hang around. I was on the best horse.”
He moved Hawwaam past Twist Of Fate into second spot just off Zillzaal, and as they hit the straight he took the lead. From then on the race was over. Although Twist Of Fate attempted some sort of challenge, Hawwaam was travelling easily in front and with 100m to run Marcus was looking over his shoulder for the opposition.
I repeatedly expressed the view during the week that a place bet on Twist Of Fate was the way to go rather than take the short odds on Hawwaam, and those who heeded the advice were rewarded with a R1.80 payout on TAB. Hawwaam paid R1.20 for a win and R1 a place.
The Vodacom Durban July will be next on Hawwaam’s schedule if trainer Mike de Kock’s recommendation is accepted by owner Sheikh Hamdan and his racing manager, Angus Gold.
“I have always believed that we should run him in the Durban July,” said De Kock. “It’s a decision they have to make but if it’s up to me, this horse runs. They will be encouraged by me to run him and as soon as I get the green light from them the public will be told.”
Speaking about the race itself, De Kock commented: “He’s pretty straightforward when it comes to travelling, eating and that sort of thing but there are temperament issues. You see he had to leave the parade ring early, he loaded late and then he almost stands in the gates, he throws his head up.
“That wasn’t the plan. The plan was actually to lead. The fact that nothing went well, but he still came through is important. He’s got a lot of guts and heart.”
Marcus may not be available to ride Hawwaam in the Durban July as he has said he will be riding Rainbow Bridge, Hawwaam’s older half-brother.
On his website, mikedkockracing.com, the trainer added: “I think by Tuesday next week we will know who our jockey will be. I don’t think Anton is committed to riding Rainbow Bridge, but if he chooses to go that way, it won’t prevent us from running and nor will the draw, because the July draws come out after final acceptances so there is no chance to pull out if we get a poor draw.”
De Kock believes runners improve at Greyville after they’ve seen the track once, and that it will be such for Hawwaam, who has now won six times from seven starts, including three Grade 1s and R5,6-million in stakes.
The R1-million Woolavington 2000 for fillies resulted in an upset when Silvano’s Pride, a 16-1 shot trained by Justin Snaith, led almost all the way to beat 2-1 favourite Front And Centre by 0.30 lengths with Blossom in third.
It was an enterprising ride from Richard Fourie who quickly picked up on the slow pace and took his mount into a clear lead. “I’ve been waiting for this distance for ages,” said Snaith. “She’s been caught late in so many of her races but she is a Silvano and I knew she would be hard to catch over this distance.”
Front And Centre was kept near the rear by Marcus and he started to mount his challenge on the outside of the field. However, she suddenly ducked in and ran all the way to the inside fence, which surely cost her more than the 0.30 lengths she was beaten.
Snaith added during his interview that he was disappointed Bunker Hunt had to be scratched from the Daily News “otherwise we would have caused another upset”.
I wonder if he honestly still felt that way after the race was run.
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