The arduous five month trek that five-year-old mare Via Africa and other Dubai-bound South African horses endured, took them on a mystical journey from the tip of Africa, via the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, via the Good Queen's England, before embarking for their eventual destination in the heartland of United Arab Emirates.
Via Africa's breeder and part-owner Andre Hauptfleisch commented, “She took the travel and the quarantine very well and trainer Mike de Kock said she is doing well in Dubai. The plan is for her to follow the same route that Shea Shea took. She will have a prep run at the end of January. She will then run on Super Saturday on 7 March and on Dubai World Cup night. After that she will go back to England and be aimed at Royal Ascot and other top sprints.”
The races Shea Shea took in were the Dubai Excellence Stakes, followed by Super Saturday’s Listed Meydan Sprint and World Cup night’s Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint. All of these races are over 1000m on turf. In England Shea Shea then ran in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes over 1000m at Royal Ascot, the Group 1 July Cup over 1200m at Newmarket, and the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes over 1000m at York.
Hauptfleisch raced Via Africa’s mother, the Qui Danzig mare Bump ‘N Grind, with Noordhoek Beach-based trainer Mike Stewart and she won three races over 1000m. However, she does not have a strong female line on paper and Hauptfleisch consequently bought out his racing partners for breeding purposes. His father Gren owned a share in Var... and the rest is history.
Via Africa, who is part-owned by Albert Boshoff, won three Grade 1s under the care of KwaZulu-Natal’s current champion trainer Duncan Howells. She was unlucky to not be named Equus Three-Year-Old Champion Filly, but did win the Equus Champion Sprinter Award last season.
Her siblings have not fared well to date and three to have raced have only won one race between them, and that was courtesy of her full-sister Imbolc.
However, Hauptfleisch has a share in Elusive Fort and Bump ‘N Grind's two foals by this stallion which give reason for hope. The first of them a Howells-trained colt called Al Wahed gives Hauptfleisch “goose flesh” on looks alone and has had two promising starts, a 3,15 length third to the promising Dreamuponadream and a six length second to the top class Generalissimo, both over 1200m. The second of them is a two-year-old filly who looks remarkably alike Via Africa and she is also with Howells.
Bump ‘N Grind currently has a robust foal by Oratorio and is in foal again to Var.
One characteristic of her foals, according to Hauptfleisch, is that they all eat up every scrap which is always a bonus for a trainer.
Hauptfleisch and Boshoff were at Scottsville to watch the Howells-trained Spectrum gelding Zestful running in the Gold Circle Witness KZN Summer Challenge. Their journey from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg proved worthwhile as the horse won that race in commanding style despite carrying topweight.