Thursday is the last chance for Gauteng racing fans to see Mike de Kock’s star performer Hawwaam in the flesh.
The champion trainer has revealed his future plans for the four-year-old that include taking in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Sun Met. He will then be exported to Australia via the UK.
With young Mathew de Kock at the helm, the family will be setting up a satellite yard in Melbourne in August. If all goes well — and Hawwaam is as good as most pundits believe — one wonders whether the son of Silvano might contest the Cox Plate at end-October.
There’s a big international meeting in Hong Kong this weekend and, with reports of significant progress in the easing of the strict export protocols, one can also speculate that the De Kocks may fancy a return to the former British colony with Hawwaam.
It was in May 2014 that De Kock saddled Variety Club to win the Gr 1 Champions Mile, giving Markus Jooste his most memorable day as an owner.
Variety Club came home clear of his field, prompting top jockey Joao Moreira to say: “He didn’t just beat us — he broke us into little pieces.”
After that victory, Variety Club was given a rating of 126 — now Hawwaam races off a figure of 131. Go figure.
If things go without mishap, as they did at the Vaal in November, Thursday’s fifth race should be a stroll in the park for the 1-12 favourite.
Hawwaam is opposed by just five rivals in the 1,600m event. The horse likely to follow him home is Sean Tarry’s four year-old, Tierra Del Fuego.
It’s now a case of wherever Hawwaam goes so does Anton Marcus, and with plenty of overseas success on his CV, the 49-year-old will also be keen to ride the colt in Australia.
Marcus has every chance of riding a treble at the city track on Thursday as De Kock has also engaged him for Tilmeth (third race) and Nimitz in the first leg of the jackpot.
After two unplaced runs, the decision was taken to geld Tilmeeth and it seems to have done the trick as he finished second to African Darter last time out.
Nevertheless, it might be unwise to invest too much of the place winnings on Queen Supreme in the Summer Cup on the son of Captain Al as he’s likely to be fully extended by Paul Peter’s Aussie-bred filly, Tobefair.
Nimitz, who faces 10 opponents in the fourth race, looks a safer wager as his form is superior to anything his rivals have achieved. The right horse for the exacta could be Ideal Day, though Candice Dawson’s stable is going through a lean spell.
Movie Magic, a son of Mogok trained by Lucky Houdalakis, is also set to start at cramped odds in the sixth race over 1,400m. The gelding is certainly not one to risk the rent on, but it’s hard to name a serious danger to the four-year-old.
Magical Java, the mount of Summer Cup-winning jockey Denis Schwarz, hasn’t raced since August so perhaps the addition of blinkers will enable Wild Curve to take the runner-up cheque.
A number of well-bred two-year-olds will be making their debuts in the first race, and two who appeal on pedigree are the Querari colt, Action Packed, and the Judpot colt, War Room.
First race: No selection
Second race: No selection
Third race: (11) Tobefair (3) Tilmeeth (9) Banha Bridge (8) Arminius
Fourth race: (2) Nimitz (1) Ideal Day (4) Lyntys Legacy (3) Follow My Path
Fifth race: (1) Hawwaam (3) Tierra Del Fuego (4) Lake Kinneret (2) Hero’s Honour
Sixth race: (1) Movie Magic (5) Wild Curve (3) Magical Java (2) Mambo Symphony
Seventh race: (5) State Trooper (4) Old Man Tyme (1) American Hustle (7) Ouro
Eighth race: (13) True Words (10) Spanish Boy (1) Baron Rodney (7) Tokolosh