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Hawwaam and Soqrat, two of the best horses in South Africa will face each other in Saturday’s Grade 1 H F Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes at Turffontein 2.15pm (Irish time).
Both horses, trained by Mike De Kock and owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, contest the one-mile race was won last year by Soqrat.
It is Hawwaam, however, considered by many to be the best horse in South Africa, who will start favourite for the race.
“Both are doing really well,” De Kock said. “It’s a Group 1 and they’ve both had a nice extended spell, freshened up really well and I’m more than happy with both. Hawwaam is a horse who is brilliant and has his temperamental issues – he’s just very masculine.”
Earlier this year, before the onslaught of Covid-19, the plan was to send the multiple Group 1 winner to Europe to take on some of the Continent’s best. That plan is on hold for the 4-year-old who has an official rating of 120.
“Absolutely, I would like to,” De Kock continued. “We were all on line to ship to the EU and then COVID came and stopped direct shipments. That is the intention, but there is still a lot that must happen.”
Soqrat has tactical speed and proven very tough to beat in the heat of battle. Rated 119, the son of Epaulette disappointed when only eighth in the Grade 1 Queen’s Plate in South Africa on 11th January.
“Soqrat is a very good horse and very consistent, barring his last run,” De Kock explained.
“He’s very tough and straight-forward. He has a good temperament and is the complete package, actually. He has no quirks and is always a danger going into any race. He’s a top horse.”