Hawkins: Jumping For Joy

There's always a great story when it comes to good horses and great racing people


Hawkins and Mark Sutherland canter to post

With eight Gold Cup winners to his name, Felix Coetzee holds the title of our best ever rider in this premier staying event. Charlie Barends ran a close second and chalked up seven winners from 1941 to 1964. Felix retired this year and also had the distinction of riding a winner on his last ever Gold Cup ride on In Writing in 2012. He rode his first winner in the race in 1984.

Coetzee was carded to ride Terrance Millard’s Hawkins in the 1983 Jockey Brand Gold Cup but had to stand down due to an ear infection.  He was replaced by Mark Sutherland, who was a key player for the stable that season.

Felix Coetzee is the top Gold Cup jockey of all time

Felix Coetzee is the top Gold Cup jockey of all time

The record books show that the champion trainer won a quintet of 1983 Winter Majors, with the 1983 Republic Day (Tecla Bluff / Mark Sutherland), 1983 Rothmans July (Tecla Bluff / Mark Sutherland), the Gold Cup (Hawkins / Mark Sutherland) and Clairwood Winter Handicap (Tecla Bluff / Mark Sutherland).

With the NZ-bred Royal Play having gone wrong after his Lonsdale Stirrup Cup victory, the door was opened for Hawkins to atone for his short-head defeat in the 1982 Gold Cup.

Up 9kg from the previous year, Hawkins was never out of the first three Sutherland set him alight in the straight, the only question was how far he would win by.

Ralph Rixon had to again be content with second and third place finishes as Scottyness and Orange Parade chased Hawkins to the line where the 22/10 favourite had a comfortable 2 ¼ lengths to spare over his rivals.

Hawkins was given to Carol Woodruff (Millard) on his retirement and was actually a member of Geoff Woodruff’s string when he started training on 1 October 1988. His son Timothy was born on Wednesday 19 October and Geoff had his first runner on that Saturday at Milnerton. Interestingly it was a horse called Third Admiral, ridden to victory by Felix Coetzee!

Geoff Woodruff

Geoff Woodruff has a lovely tale to tell about a Gold Cup winner and an overdraft

Geoff takes up the Hawkins story:

“They had some nice hurdle races in the Cape at the time and Carol wanted to have a go with Hawkins. There was a race called the Protea Assurance National Hurdle Stakes at Kenilworth that he won twice in succession. It had a terrific stake of R25 000– that kind of money was unheard of back then – we were earning R10 000  for a maiden!  Anyway, Carol won on him that first year.  I was on Brubaker and I fell and ended up in hospital.  But Hawkins paid a lot of our expenses that first year.  I won on him the following year and he paid off my overdraft.  He was sore after that so we retired him.  He’d have made a great jump racer in England.”


Felix Coetzee Eight Gold Cups:

2012 – In Writing

1998 – Bella Bianca

1996 – Festive Forever

1990 – Illustrador

1988 – Castle Walk

1986 – Occult

1985 – Voodoo Charm

1984 – Devon Air

Charlie Barends Seven Gold Cups:

1964 – New Chief

1954 – Coquimbo

1953 – Eros

1950 – Chez Monty

1949 – Chez Monty

1947 – His Lordship

1941 – What Next

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