At home she is known as the ‘Cookie Monster’ but whatever her preferred delicacies, the dam of two of the best horses in the country, Rainbow Bridge and Hawwaam, has earned her Equus Award as the Champion Broodmare.
She is Halfway To Heaven and the daughter of Jet Master was a decent enough performer on the racetrack.
She raced 18 times for seven wins and seven places and remarkably, as has been the case with her first two foals, she was trained firstly by Eric Sands, and then by Mike de Kock.
There’s a sort of irony in that as Rainbow Bridge is trained by Sands, and Hawwaam by De Kock.
Halfway To Heaven began her racing career with Sands under whose tutelage she won six races, including the Grade 3 Prix Du Cap over 1400m.
That gave her the sought after “Black Type”, so vital when showcasing the breeding value of a broodmare. She was then bought by Mary Slack from Wilgerbosdrift and sent to Mike de Kock for whom she raced five more times for one win, in the Listed Off To Stud Handicap over 1800m at Scottsville.
Jet Master was by Rakeen, who although no superstar as a racehorse, was one of the last progeny of the great Northern Dancer. His dam, Glorious Song, also produced Singspiel (By In The Wings, a son of Sadler’s Wells who was also by Northern Dancer) and is the sire of Potala Palace.
Sadly, many of best males bred by Jet Master, and that includes arguably his best in Pocket Power, performed better as geldings, so it has been up to the mares to carry on the legacy.
Both Rainbow Bridge and Hawwaam are not also that easy to manage and according to Wilgerbosdrift manager Gail Bulpit , neither was Halfway To Heaven.
“She did have temperament issues as well.She was incredibly highly strung when she first arrived at the farm and she kept running away from us when we tried to catch her.Amazingly, Mary was the only one who could walk up to her and she would just stand there. We couldn’t believe it.But she has mellowed out as she has got older.”
It does appear though, the best way to her heart is through her stomach. “She loves cookies. We know her as the Cookie Monster. I’m the one who walks around every night with a pocket full of cookies and carrots and dishes them out.”
Rainbow Bridge still has the odd quirk and he sweats up quite badly before a race but Gail says he has calmed down quite a bit.
“His last win was fantastic, especially if you consider that his saddle slipped badly and Richard (Fourie) was just trying to stay on him.”
Gail points out that much of Hawwaam’s quirks have also arisen due to a soft mouth, for which De Kock fits him with a special bit.
“I understand that the problem in the Durban July is that as he was going into the stalls he got a jab in the mouth and that spooked him a little.
“We hope he settles down but Mike has always said Hawwaam will be a better four-year-old.”
Waiting in the wings are three more foals out of Halfway To Heaven. “We have Golden Ducat, who is by Philanthropist. He is a three-year-old and is with Eric Sands as well. He did have a bit of a setback but Eric says he is doing well.”
The other two are by Silvano, the same sire as Hawwaam. There is a two-year-old filly named In Limbo and an, as yet, unnamed colt who is still a yearling.
At the moment, Halfway To Heaven is in foal again, this time to Querari.
“That should be a nice mix and then after that we’re planning to send her to Fire Away, who is our new sire,” said Gail.