Master Of The Jet – Saluting Henry Devine!

A remarkable milestone

As far as racing goes, veteran breeder and owner Henry Devine has done and seen it all. That comes as no surprise, for he will celebrate his 100th birthday on Wednesday 29 June, a remarkable milestone.

Born in (then) Mafeking, Henry served in Palestine with the third The Kings Own Hussars during the Second World War.

This being a cavalry regiment, all the officers had a great love of horses and as the British Army maintained remount depots in the Middle East, there were many opportunities to ride out. When opportunities arose, Henry hunted with the ‘Ramley Vale Hunt’ and even had the privilege of riding Jimmy James, a horse who had run in the Grand National!

A young Henry during the Second World War

After the war, Henry studied to become a Chartered Accountant and was in practice for about 25 years before selling out to his partners.

Henry started a lifelong passion for the racing game when he was granted his colours in 1976 and purchased his first yearlings, mainly fillies, at the very last sale held at the old Milner Park. He became heavily involved in racing, to the extent that at one stage, he had about 80 horses in training.

Henry also ventured into breeding and established the Golden Oaks Stud in Paardeberg, outside Paarl, which became home to the stallions Great Brother, Mr Eats and homebred Lauterbrunnen – the latter named after the Swiss village where Henry and wife Pat spent their honeymoon!

Neither of these stallions set the world alight, yet history will show that Great Brother features as the sire of Brave The Wind, who just happens to be the third dam of the Devine-bred Gr1 Cape Guineas winner Double Superlative.

Even more significant, if it wasn’t for Mr Eats, there would be no Rafeef!

Arguably the hottest young sire around, his dam, the champion sprinter National Colour is out of Rainbow Cake, one of just two stakes winners sired by Mr Eats.

Successful in the Champagne Stakes, she was bred by Henry and also features as the grandam of Gr2 SA Fillies Nursery winner Basadi Faith and Gr3 Lebelo Sprint ace Anna Capri.

However, it is with the legendary Jet Master that Henry will forever be associated. As Pat quipped:”We were joined at the hip, so to speak!”

Jet Master

Jet Master

Purchased as a weanling for a mere R15 000, the KZN-bred son of Rakeen blazed a trail as a racehorse and a stallion.

Initially trained by Tony Millard, he won the Gr1 Cape Argus Guineas, Gr1 Queen’s Plate, Gr1 Golden Spur and Gr1 Nissan Challenge. When Millard left for Hong Kong, Jet Master joined the stable of brother-in-law Geoff Woodruff, under whose expert care he added a second Gr1 Queen’s Plate and proved himself the country’s leading sprinter, winning the Gr1 Cape Flying Championship and Gr1 Mercury Sprint, while successfully defending his Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint crown.

With the accolade of Horse of the Year and Champion Sprinter in the bag, Jet Master retired to stud where he confirmed the promise of his remarkable racing prowess and proved a roaring success, thereby silencing the sceptics who had doubted his pedigree credentials.

Having made an immediate impact as the Champion first-season sire, he reached the top of the South African sires list with just three crops at the track.

Seven times the country’s leading sire, Jet Master has become the dominant broodmare sire of recent years, whilst his sons Pomodoro and Master Of My Fate are both Gr1 stallions. The latter, who sired aforementioned Basadi Faith, also established himself as a blue-chip stallion when runner- up on the General Sires list in 2020/21.

Henry Devine receives another award as his wife Pat and Susan Rowett share the moment

Henry and Pat have bred their fair share of Jet Master’s stakes winners, prime amongst which the outstanding dual champion sprinter J J The Jet Plane (a globetrotting Gr1 winner who also emulated his sire’s feat with a Golden Horse Sprint double) and Gr1 winners Soft Landing, Love Is In The Air and Fly By Night.

This Saturday, four days before Henry’s 100th birthday, the Gr3 Pocket Power Stakes will be run at Kenilworth.

Formerly the Winter Derby, the third leg of the Cape’s Winter Series was fittingly renamed in honour of Jet Master’s most iconic offspring Pocket Power. The country’s Horse of the Year on three occasions, he was also the first Winter Series winner.

Pocket Power

Pocket Power

One of a remarkable 17 of his sire’s first-crop stakes winners, the Zandvliet-bred gelding rewrote the history books as the sole three-time winner of the prestigious Gr1 Met, while his record of four consecutive victories in the Gr1 Queen’s Plate will probably never be equalled.

Henry and Pat, who have been married for 33 years, moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town eight years ago and now live in Oranjezicht. They still race a handful of horses, which are spread amongst Snaith Racing, Bass Racing and Alan Greeff.

Henry may be on the verge of becoming a centenarian, yet he remains as sharp as a tack and still does the books for his manufacturing business, in addition to which he takes a keen interest in the breeding of his mares, which are boarded at Winterbach Stud.

There is no way of cramming all the anecdotes and memories into this tribute, which just leaves us to thank Henry for his contributions to racing and breeding. and most importantly, wish him a wonderful 100th birthday!

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4 comments on “Master Of The Jet – Saluting Henry Devine!

  1. Fred Theunis says:

    Yes South Africa has been fortunate in breeding quite a handful of Champions but Jet Master took the cake.

  2. Fred Theunis says:

    I would have liked our breeders to have bred a Champion like Sea Bird 2 I believe He was the highest rated horse ever bred.

  3. Gregg Clarke says:

    True Doyens of this wonderful industry into which their contribution is etched permanently and can never be erased. Their Jetmaster is one of the greatest racing gifts to SA Racing and Mr & Mrs Devine deserve every accolade an industry can infer on irs contributors . Best wishes to Mr D on yet another remarkable life milestone with his Centenary Birth Day.

  4. Dierk says:

    Henry Devine served in North Africa and Italy as a tank commander. The end of the war saw him at the Po river.

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