J&B Met winner Past Master with owner Hassan Adams
J&B Met winner Past Master with owner Hassan Adams

Owner Hassan Adams (right) with J&B Met winner Past Master

(Photo : Gold Circle)

THE J&B MET 2011

I’m not a betting man, but every now and then, one hits you bang in the eye, and the temptation is irresistible. When I saw the running of the Diadem Stakes (1200 metres at Kenilworth,) I swore I’d seen the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner. For a horse who’d previously won acclaim over further (the Selangor Cup (Grade 2) 1400 metres, as an early three year old,) for his victory over Noordhoek Flyer (a “cracker,” in my esteem) the Diadem performance was staggering.

My plunge in the Queen’s Plate was entrusted to the eminent Irish Breeder, Diane Nagle, as I confidently parted with my R500 for Past Master. Inexplicably, he ran no kind of race, and whatever the reason for his “no show”, it’s likely he signalled a false dawn by flattering the outcome.

The result was the fans made Mother Russia the “good thing” she wasn’t for the J&B Met, and while she went to the start a deserving favourite on form, it was the default of Past Master that made it that way.

We all know the outcome. Hassan Adams became the first man of colour to decorate the Number One box; Darryl Hodgson, rescued from obscurity by a man from the previously disadvantaged community, becomes a “Met” trainer; and Hymie Maisel, one-time chair of the TBA of South Africa, and sickened by a stroke, breeds a Met winner in the sands of Philippi.

And I get to back the winner in the wrong race!

The record tells us history has been made, for a whole lot of reasons. But let me share an anecdote. I’ve know Hassan since his activist youth. He’s always been a racing nut, to the degree of owning a stud farm when he could ill afford one.

I remember him having a runner in a Gold Cup at Greyville when, because of his colour, he had to watch from the silver ring. I remember giving him a service to sell to the Champion Sire, Northern Guest, for the charitable use of the Hout Bay branch of the ANC, long before that organisation was unbanned.

And I remember the hell I got for doing so.