HAWWAAM WINS CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE
Jack Milner: Hawwaam proved he has few peers in the country with a runaway victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 World Sports Betting Premiers Champions Challenge.
On an afternoon in which racing fans witnessed the demise of two previous odds-on favourites, Hawwaam (4-10) re-established the balance of power with a 3.50-length victory over stable companion Soqrat. Third place went to Tierra Del Fuego.
Sadly, it is the last time we will be seeing Hawwaam in action as he will shortly go into quarantine before being shipped off overseas.
Callan Murray had the Mike de Kock-trained colt in third place as Western Fort set the pace from stable companion Jet Start with Soqrat on the rail five lengths off the leader.
Once in the straight Hawwaam moved in quickly to challenge for the lead and as they approached the 200m mark Soqrat moved up dangerously on his inside. But Murray was just toying with them and once he gave the son of Silvano one crack, Hawwaam just extended to win with ease.
‘He’s a horse who has matured nicely,” said Murray. “He got in behind the speed. They definitely came back but I was really happy with the way this horse settled. Coming into the straight I couldn’t wait much longer, I had to pull out into the headwind, but I thought he hit the line very strong.”
De Kock said Hawwaam had come on quite a lot since his Horse Chestnut Stakes win. “We had to give a break after Cape Town. He wasn’t himself there. I wish I had him in this form in the Met, it would have been a proper race.
“He’s absolutely been flying at home and it’s such a pit we won’t get another chance to run him.
“I believe he is the kind of horse who could win something like the Arlington Million. He will definitely win a Group 1 race in Australia, I have no doubt in my mind about that.
“I think he’s going to be even a better horse at five. He’s still growing his withers haven’t flattened out yet. It’s amazing to think that there’s still more to come but I firmly believe there is.
“Had he run here again, you would have seen something really special because he’s definitely just getting better and better.”
De Kock also paid tribute Murray’s handling of Hawwaam. “Callan has been brilliant on this horse. He doesn’t overthink it, he’s very calm on him, he knows what he’s got under him and he rides him with the confidence of a well-experienced jock.”