By Nicholas Godfrey
South Africa: Amid continued frustrations in trying to get his stable star Hawwaam on to the world stage, legendary trainer Mike de Kock has urged the European Union to get a move on with its audit on South African export procedures.
Sheikh Hamdan’s four-year-old has played a starring role at Turffontein with a pair of G1 successes since racing restarted at the beginning of June and De Kock has long since itched to try him overseas.
However, arduous quarantine protocols designed to combat the spread of African Horse Sickness have delayed his plans – and De Kock suggests the EU has been dragging its heels on the issue.
“We see Zoom meetings happening at boardroom levels all over the world,” he said. “Why can’t they do our audit virtually? Our industry is in dire straits, our operator is in business rescue but still the EU are taking their time.”
Speaking on his website, De Kock urged the EU to expedite its investigation. “We need help,” he said.
“I wonder what we must do to make the audit happen? Maybe we should go on our knees before them. They must be seeing what is going on but they are stalling. All they should do is the right thing – what will it take?
“The future of South African racing and the employment of tens of thousands of workers in our industry rest on the shoulders of the EU. We need them to level the playing fields, because we produce athletes capable of competing on the world stage. We have done our bit, the rest is now up to them.”
Despite the difficulties, De Kock remains committed to launching Hawwaam on an overseas campaign.
Having landed the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes at Turffontein on June 6, the son of Silvano took his tally at the top level to five when confirming himself the nation’s number one performer with a 3½-length victory on Saturday in the Premier’s Champions Challenge back at the same venue.
De Kock also had a one-two in the SA Nursery on the same card. “When you have a horse like Hawwaam and our two juveniles that ran in the Nursery and you know they are good enough to take on the world’s best, you have to cringe for them,” said the trainer.
“They have arduous journeys ahead,” he went on. “As things stand, Hawwaam will be going into quarantine soon.
“He will have to spend three weeks at Kenilworth and a further 90 days in Mauritius before he can travel on to the UK where a further 180-day residency will be required should we choose to travel to Australia. Should we choose to travel to Dubai, a 30-day residency will be required.”
But he reckons Haawaam has the credentials to become a big player elsewhere. “I know what it takes to win abroad,” he said.
“Hawwaam is good enough to win a race like the Arlington Million in the US, and he is more than good enough to win a G1 in Australia. I’d like to see him race in Australia. But look what we have to go through to get there!”
• Visit Mike de Kock’s website