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‘I’m Still In The Great Race!’

Hassen Adams - no Past Master!

When Kommetdieding stormed to victory in the WSB Cape Town Met on Saturday for Ashwin Reynolds another former Met winning owner from similarly humble beginnings reflected on his own joyous day in the same race a decade earlier.

Approaching his seventieth birthday this year, and having suffered the ravages of various cancers over the past few years, internationally successful businessman and racehorse breeder Hassen Adams is considerably greyer and casts a slighter figure these days than the robustly charismatic owner with the mop of black hair that led Gerrit Schlechter and Past Master in after the Darryl Hodgson-trained gelding had won the 2011 J&B Met.

Flashback to 2011 – Rayaan and Hassen Adams lead Past Master (Gerrit Schelchter) in

The man born in Cape Town’s famous District Six was selling newspapers on the winter streets of the Mother City before he was ten years old.

When the Sporting Post visited him at his beachfront apartment on Monday, he was clearly delighted at Ashwin Reynold’s hometown success in the Cape’s flagship race.

“Hell, I am so happy for Ashwin. He is a hardworking man and deserves the success. And what a top horse he has in Kommetdieding. It’s important for the community of the Cape Flats to see tangible proof that if you work hard and keep at it, you can make your own luck,” says South Africa’s first racing steward of colour, who partly quotes his friend and fellow breeder, Gary Player.

Hassen – so pleased for Ashwin Reynolds (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

Hassen understands the value equation – his first venture was Damascus Stud from where he bred Sleek Machine, which was sold for R500 and came within a heartbeat of catching London News in the 1996 the Durban July.

Watch Past Master win the 2011 J&B Met:

While he enjoyed a nice double saddled by Weiho Marwing at Turffontein on Sunday, the late James Lightheart was his first trainer and also gave him his first winner.

“Thatching’s Fire was a filly I raced and she won me six races. I eventually sold her to the Becks. I also, by fluke, bought into Russian Fox and as time went on I got involved with trainers all over the country. To this day, I have always tried to support the underdog.

Hassen has served on a variety of boards in business and in the racing industry over 40 years, and we asked him if he saw racing converting the ‘Kommet factor’ into marketing mileage.

Read more news – click on the image below:

“I would like to believe that once the euphoria has subsided that something tangible will be done to develop the concept of the ‘people’s horse’. Talk is cheap you know. Racing needs to genuinely win back the man-in-the-street as it is betting turnover that ultimately fuels the industry engine.”

While he wasn’t keen to go into great depth about his health issues over the past six years, Hassen marvels at what medical science can do and after seven different forms of cancer, he hasn’t been subjected to chemotherapy and its potentially debilitating side effects.

“I have been lucky, and it’s amazing the strides that medical science has made. Robotic surgery is one. You lie there and nobody touches you. It is remarkable,” he says as he picks up Sunday’s Cape Premier Yearling Sale catalogue.

He had a triple bypass last year and shows us the scar that runs like a mountain path up the centre of his upper body.

Hassen has had some serious health issues (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

But despite the health setbacks, he isn’t going anywhere right now and in fact wants to get more involved in racing, with his 31 year B Com graduate son Rayaan taking the lead.

“Here’s the future,” he says as he embraces his son into the conversation and chats about their Nadeson Park draft on Sunday’s De Grendel Cape Premier Yearling Sale.

“I have a yearling that is the closest in looks and conformation I have ever seen to Gimmethegreenlight. He is lot 19 – quite a brute and I rate him my best in this draft,” he says in his trademark quietly confident manner.

“Here’s my notes on my top ten boys and girls. It looks like things are turning around and I hope we have a good turnout on Sunday. We need more happy winners like Ashwin!”

*Ed – see Hassen’s notes under this editorial

The top lot 19 is by one of the great horses that Hassen raced. Gimmethegreenlight is SA Champion sire and Hassen recalls the trip to Australia where the lovely weanling kept talking to him.

Hassen and son Rayaan – the new generation (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

“It was at an Inglis Weanling Sale. We were sitting at a table with James Bester and Sue Snaith. Sue really is one of those people with a special affinity – a spiritual link – with horses. She has a great eye for a good horse. I said to them I am going to try and get him for A$50 000. Next minute, bidding opened at 50k! I kept going and eventually landed up paying three times that. But he was worth every cent in hindsight!”

Gimmethegreenlight was retired to stud as a 3yo, three months after his glorious L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate victory.

At the time, respected pedigree analyst and successful breeder Rob Knuppe sent an email to Hassen saying:“Of all the thousands of deep pedigree searches I have undertaken in the past decade I have yet to see a more exciting pedigree make-up come close to that of Gimmethegreenlight. It is a foregone conclusion that he will be challenging South Africa’s top Sires in just a few years from now”.

Prophetic words!

Hassen’s De Grendel Cape Premier Yearling Sale Notebook:

Lot 19: Colt by Gimmethegreenlight (USA) – Comebackanddance

“He, to me, is a splitting image of his sire. He is quite a brute and I rate him my best in this draft.”

Lot 20: Colt by Gimmethegreenlight (USA) – Comet Chaser

“He is good looking, a nice walker and a bull of a horse. He looks like he will be an excellent sprinter-miler, his dam is very well performed. The pedigree speaks for itself.”

Lot 29: Colt by Twice Over – District Six

“This is a magnificent specimen, his dam is from the powerful Mystic Spring female line who has thrown me some nice horses. Again, the page speaks for itself.

Lot 88: Colt by What A Winter – Maureen De Lago

“He comes from a very good female line. His dam won two races and was Graded placed, she would have gone to the top if not for a hip injury. A nice colt with a half- brother who has already won three races.”

Lot 93: Colt by Twice Over – Mohave Princess

“He is from Mohave Princess, a bold black type mare who won the Devon Air Listed and was G1 placed. His half-brother Picture Perfect (by Trippi) won by 3,50 lengths on debut at Turffontein on 30 January. A big horse, looks like he will go over ground, smart sort.”

Lot 139: Colt by Horizon – Sensible Lover

“By a promising new stallion from a bold black type mare called Sensible Lover. He’s a lovely bay colt that will get his share of attention at the sale.”

Lot 146: Colt by What a Winter – Single Rose

“This one comes from a wonderful family, the pedigree is there to see, and he is a very well conformed colt, number three on my list.”

 Lot 150: Colt by Potala Palace – Spring Orchid

“By the sire of Katak from a full-sister to Snowdance, again the great Mystic Spring family. I sent her to Potala Palace for a specific reason, this could be a ‘lucky packet’ buy, he is a really nice mover.”

Lot 166: Colt by Time Thief – Valediction

“A beautifully conformed colt, hence the reason he is in my top ten. This could be a good value buy for someone with a small budget. He is out of the same female line as Trademark and others, a Gr1 producing female line.”

Lot 186: Colt by Pomodoro – Amber Orchid

“This colt is from a well-performed Australian filly that raced for me. A big, well-balanced colt, lovely pedigree.”

Lot 25: Filly by Gimmethegreenlight – Cream Of Chrome:

“A nice Gimmethegreenlight filly from a sparingly raced mare that placed, but I am expecting her to do well at stud. The second dam is Listed winner Kiribati, who was a really good galloper. The filly is well conformed, her half-brother was just beaten into second on debut and then won in impressive fashion last Sunday with his jockey and trainer most complimentary afterwards.”

Lot 35: Filly by Gimmethegreenlight – Emerald Gal

“This filly is out of a winning Galileo mare. She’s bred in the purple. The dam’s full-sister is already a Group winner in the UK. I am hoping to breed some very good horses with her. This one is smart.”

Lot 41: Filly by Trippi – Fairyinthewoods

“This filly is by a sire that needs no introduction and comes from a fast family, her dam won six races including the Gr2 Southern Cross Stakes and has bold black type. She is well conformed, another filly I think will get some spirited bidding.”

Lot 42: Filly by What A Winter – Fanfare

“She is from a half-sister to Durban July winner and Equus Champion Heavy Metal. A beautiful filly with a deep, classic female line.”

 Lot 80: Filly by Master Of My Fate – London Secret

“Number one on my list of fillies because she is an exceptional specimen. Normally Jet Master mares go very well with Gimmethegreenlight. Here we have a Jet Master stallion over a winning mare by Gimmethegreenlight. She looks a splitting image of her sire; I think she will be one of this sale’s top sellers. The female line goes to Secret Pact, which brings a host of stars into the mix. I have big expectations for her.”

Lot 97: Filly by Gimmethegreenlight – Mysterious Jet

“She is a good-looking full-sister to La Bella Mia, the recent Gr2 winning sprinter who won eight times and was placed 14 times. From a family of champion fillies.”

Lot 98: Filly by Gimmethegreenlight – No Doubt

“A beautifully conformed filly from a young mare. She is from the close family of top sire Vercingetorix and could be one of the showstoppers at the sale.”

Lot 148: Filly by Gimmethegreenlight – Six Of The Best

“Another one bred from a Jet Master mare. Her full brother Cane Lime N Soda is now a four-time winner. She also comes from the Mystic Spring female line.”

Lot 155: Filly by Gimmethegreenlight – Teresina

“She is from a Jet Master mare, and sheis a full-sister to Gr2 placed Ready Steady Go, the six-time winner. From the formidable Young Polly family, I owned a few, and I expect her to fetch a good sales price.”

Lot 187: Filly by Captain Of All – Arctic Green

“From a leading and versatile stallion and the close family of Gr1 winner Silver Arc, she is one for the buyer’s market. A lovely filly, come look at her.”

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1 comment on “‘I’m Still In The Great Race!’

  1. Pravesh Teja says:

    Wish I could partner with Mr.Adams again.Gunner

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