Team Haggas is first past the post with Stephen Biddlecombe and Bomber Bits
October 28th, 2020
Nahaar – the perfect mix of speed and ability
One of the most respected trainers in the industry, William has had around 2,000 winners, and continues to make the front pages of the sporting titles, for example when the colt Nahaarr (left) won the prestigious Ayr Gold Cup under jockey Tom Marquand in September.
After a challenging race with no room for manoeuvre, the pair launched forwards just 150 yards from the finish line, taking the cup with a couple of strides to spare. Marquand, who had never ridden a winner at Ayr before the race, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper: “[Nahaar] surprised me, the way he picked up on that ground. I was galloping into the back of more horses in one race than I have in my entire life. He showed an exceptional turn of foot. He’s got that perfect mix of speed and ability.”
A team effort
William’s wife Maureen, daughter of the great Lester Piggott, is a renowned horse-woman, former British team eventing member and experienced Badminton Horse Trials competitor. She was described by William in a Sporting Life article as having an indescribable work ethic.
“She never stops; she’s a monster on detail. Maureen wants everything done the best we can do it,” William said.
(BELOW – school master Muthmir greets four year old Frankellina below, at the Haggases’ base.)
Maureen’s eye for detail obviously extends to bitting, with the eventing enthusiast explaining that the Haggas team has around 15 horses at Somerville using Bomber Bits. They include some Loose Ring Happy Tongues (which are non-broken and ported, and as the name suggests, are ideal for horses with sensitive or large tongues), as well as the DC Morgan and its ‘sister bit’ the DC Dressage.
These have a unique swivelling cheekpiece, and the Haggases’ range of bits includes titanium, sweet iron and the synthetic Bomber Blue, all with the ported mouthpiece.
Excellent for tongue relief
Nahaar, the mare Oti Ma Boati and a young filly named Reassure in particular use the DC Dressage bits (or the DC Morgan, pictured far below, which incorporates an optional rein loop in the cheekpiece; while the Haggas team loves this bit, they doesn’t use the extra rein loop. This version is often favoured by jumping enthusiasts, as it gives optional, additional control).
Maureen says the ported Happy Tongue mouthpieces are very good for tongue relief. “We also find that these are excellent for those horses that have sore mouths,” she says.
Based on recommendations by trainer Mike de Kock, South Africa’s most decorated trainer, and an associate of Bomber Bit’s proprietor Bomber Nel, the Haggases started using Bomber Bits only this year. There has been lovely coverage in the sporting press of some of the Haggas horses winning in the DC Dressage and DC Morgan bits, including Oti Ma Boati, who won the EBF Fillies’ Handicap, recently.
“They face the bit”
“The swivel elements of the DC Bomber Bits [the ‘DC’ referring specifically to the innovative cheekpiece] relieve a lot of pressure,” Maureen explains. “The loose ring attaches directly to the bridle, and has a swivel element, meaning it can rotate, ensuring that the poll and cheek areas are relieved from any rein engagement. You get nice flexion, and much fewer pressure points than with other cheekpieces,” Maureen continues.
“The reins attach to the ‘dee’, which swings open independently of the cheekpiece. Although it’s kind enough to be ‘legal’ in dressage circles, the DC Dressage can be really good for the strong horses, as they face it. Lots of horses don’t face the bit; they can back off the contact, and not want to race and take the contact forward – they can get behind the bridle. With the DC Bomber Bits, you have control, and the horses really seem to go forward – it must be comfy for them.”
Tom Marquand – a team player
The Haggas team has enjoyed success with up-and-coming jockey Tom Marquand recently, and Maureen says he’s a pleasure to work with. “He’s strong and fit, and very straight-forward to deal with, and a great team player. He’s progressed a lot recently, over the last few years. Tom is strong, but has very good hands, which is important to really get the most out of the horses, especially if they’re strong or sensitive mothed,” she says. “We’re lucky to work with him.”
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