SHEIKH Hamdan’s three-year-old, Hawwaam, recorded what race caller Alistair Cohen described as “the most exciting classic win in recent memory” when he smashed his rivals in the 2019 renewal of the Gr1 SA Classic over 1800m at Turffontein.
Hawwaam, powered home 5.75-lengths clear of stable mate Barahin, with National Park a further 1,50-lengths back.
The small field broke as one and Approach Control went around runners to set a good pace from Atyaab. Hawwaam settled towards the rear, with two behind him including National Park, the talented rival who beat him in the recent Gauteng Guineas.
When they turned for home, jockey Gavin Lerena used a clear passage alongside the inside rail to improve Hawwaam’s position. They all raced towards the outside, and Hawwaam placed himself in striking distance with a minimum of fuss, while Richard Fourie on National Park followed him through on the outside.
Lerena gave Hawwaam his head going into the last 250m mark and he responded spectacularly, drawing away from the opposition with his big, powerful stride.
“He showed what he was made of today,” said Lerena, who praised the De Kock team for hard work behind the scenes.
Mike de Kock, who watched the race in Melbourne, Australia, said that Hawwaam, the son of Silvano and Halfway To Heaven, had given him gooseflesh. “That’s the Hawwaam I know!” he enthused. Mike thanked Mathew de Kock and his home team and conveyed a special thanks to “Bomber” Nel, who helped to change Hawwaam’s bit to suit the colt.
Mike commented: “We have a horse here that can take on the best in the world, but we are being held back by quarantine protocols. While we have everything in place we are desperate, with our caps in hand, for the European Union to inspect us, so we can show them what we have done, show them that the protocol is in place and that we can go and showcase our product to the rest of the world, including Hawwaam.
“Having trained Gr1 winners overseas I can tell you Hawwaam is good enough to race against the best, but we are being held back by politics, not science. Politics is preventing South Africa, with our massive racing industry, to bring the world our thoroughbreds. We can breed world-class runners, but we can’t show them to the world because we can’t compete on a level playing field.”
Adrian Todd, MD of SAEHP (SA Equine Health and Protocols,” agreed with Mike and responded on Saturday night, saying: “We consulted with the world’s leading experts, improved our risk control measures, lobbied international industry and regulatory authorities and successfully conducted two privately funded pre-audits of our risk control measures.
“The final hurdle is obtaining an audit date from the EU. DAFF have requested that the EU conduct and audit of our control measures, however to date no commitment of an inspection date has been forthcoming from the EU.
“We are pushing hard on all levels. We want to EU to come and inspect our progress and our disease control measures.
“South Africa is currently unable to export ANY animals or animal products to the EU. This is a low hanging fruit, we can showcase to the world the progress that has been made, and use this partnership as a blueprint for other industries in South Africa to show what can be achieved through a public/private partnership and working together towards a clear end goal for the benefit of all.
“Races like today, once again prove the quality of South African racing, as an industry we are a major employer and a major contributor to the GDP. We are ready to export, we can now say for the first time we comply with all the standards. We need political assistance to push this once and for all over the line, so that SA may finally fully enter the world stage.
“Without exports, our industry will collapse, one final political push will provide our country with a flourishing export market and an influx of much needed foreign investment!”