By Jon Lees
France: Van Halen, the star South African sprinter who missed out on lucrative trips to Saudi Arabia and Dubai because of quarantine issues, has gone into training in France.
The dual G1 winner has joined the stable of Irishman Gavin Hernon in Chantilly and could reappear in July, with a trip to the Middle East in 2022 among possible longer term objectives.
Van Halen has not raced since he won the G1 Mercury Sprint at Greyville in August 2020 for trainer Corne Spies, after which he entered quarantine with the aim of competing at the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup meetings, only to get stuck in Mauritius.
“After we missed the Saudi races we had a few options, and the owners of Van Halen, who include myself, Xander Spies, Freddie van Wyk and Alfred Pawson, made a decision to race in France because we believe he is good enough to compete there at high level,” Spies said on his website.
Hernon set up in France in 2018 after working under Jim Bolger, Andre Fabre, Nicolas Clement, Ed Dunlop and Graham Motion. He trained his first Group winner when National Service won the Prix Paul de Moussac last year.
Hernon said: “Van Halen has just arrived from a pre-training facility, he’s been here a few days and we like him, he’s a beautiful horse. He has a natural, massive stride and I’ve watched his replays, he is smart.
“We’ll be looking at a six-furlong G3 race midway through July at Deauville to start him off, take it step-by-step to see where he’ll be fitting in. He is settling down very well with us.”
Nourbese, a G2 winner who was due to travel with Van Halen, has been sold to continue his career in Mauritius.