Master and Commander

Geoff Woodruff talks Master Sabina and his 2018 Summer Cup Chances

Master Sabina records his second Summer Cup victory (photo: JC Photos)

It has been two years since Master Sabina roared to Summer Cup victory at Turffontein on 26 November 2016. It was a memorable win, marking a historic double for Master Sabina, a double for owner / breeder Michael de Broglio, a double for jockey Gavin Lerena and a 6th Summer Cup for multiple SA Champion Trainer Geoff Woodruff, who was also celebrating his fourth in a row.

Master Sabina went on to five more starts, before hanging up his racing plates in February 2018 with a career tally of 32 starts for 9 wins, 5 places and earnings of R3,805,725.

After closing out his career under the care of Joe Soma, it was decided to retire Master Sabina to the Randjesfontein home of his old friend, Geoff Woodruff, who had campaigned him for all his career victories. With the Woodruffs having lost their dual July champion El Picha a few years earlier, Master Sabina was a most fitting successor and has even adopted El Picha’s old buddy, Andy the Pony, as his new best friend.

Master Sabina (photo: supplied)

Happily retired! (photo: supplied)

The best part of a year into his retirement, the handsome son of Jet Master has let down well and is looking a picture in his grassy paddock at the Woodruff family home in Randjesfontein. Geoff reports​, “It took him a couple of days to settle down as he was a bit out of his comfort zone, obviously, but he’s fat and happy now and we’re just starting to think about turning him into a riding horse.”

​Geoff and Carol’s son Tim will probably take over riding duties with a little help from Master Sabina’s old racing groom, Thomas. Geoff says, “Thomas was his favourite work rider and did everything with him during his racing career. Thomas said he’d like to help ride him out and will probably hack him on some of the local bridle paths.”

While we had him on the line, Geoff kindly talked us through his runners for the Summer Cup card.

Epol Magnolia Cup

Schippers – tricky, but talented (photo: JC Photos)

The Gr3 Epol Magnolia Cup will be under starter’s orders at 15:00 and Geoff sends out Schippers, a 4yo daughter of Var. The speedy chestnut has an impressive 40% strike rate, with 4 wins from 10 starts, two of which came in the hands of Gavin Lerena (who also takes the ride tomorrow) with two over the 1160m Magnolia Cup trip. “She’s a tricky filly, but she’s talented,” agrees Geoff. “Gavin gets on well with her and I think she’s a live runner. She’s got nice form, she’s owned by her breeder, Geoff van Lear, and she’s just one of those fillies that’s been a lot of fun so far.”

G-Bets Summer Cup

Secret Potion wins the 2018 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks (photo: JC Photos)

He has two runners in the Gr1 G-Bets Summer Cup, starting with the 2018 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks winner, Secret Potion. The 4yo daughter of Cape-based sire Elusive Fort (who was also trained by Geoff), campaigns in the interests of Mr S Jerrier and steps into the Summer Cup fresh off a 1600m Pinnacle Plate victory over Cascapedia on 15 November. Geoff reports, “She’s a lovely filly. She’s lovely and fit and I do believe she’s good enough to be very competitive. Obviously we’re just hoping for some luck in running.” Secret Potion is drawn 7, has a good galloping weight of 53kgs and will be partnered by Marco van Rensburg.

Master Sabina

Master Sabina and Deo Juvente doing battle in the 2015 Summer Cup (photo: JC Photos)

His second runner is stable soldier, Deo Juvente. The 7yo son of Trippi, who ran a short head second to former stablemate Master Sabina back in 2015, has touched gloves with the best, most memorably fighting off both Horse of the Year, Legal Eagle as well as Nother Russia in the 2017 Champions Challenge. He changed ownership shortly before the 2018 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and now campaigns in the interests of Messrs M I Fullard, J H Drew, P J, N & R Delport, C P Kalil, M A Makaab & T J Shawe & Mesdames S Delport & C Woodruff. “I still think he will reward his new owners for their kindness,” reflects Geoff.

After a quiet 6yo season, Deo Juvente appears to have bounced back to best, finishing just off them in the first two starts of his 7yo campaign, before a flat run in the recent Victory Moon Stakes.

“He was on a good upward trend in his earlier two starts, but when he came out of the Victory Moon, he gave a few coughs and seemed a little shaken up on his right front,” Geoff explains. “It was all dealt with straightaway though and he’s absolutely bristling at the moment,” he reports happily. “He’s now very sound and happy and looking like the Deo Juvente I used to know.” He has a 17 draw, Chase Maujean takes the ride and they will be carrying 53kgs to post.

Racing Association Stakes

Ali Bon Dubai – a professional in every way (photo JC Photos)

Lastly, Geoff sends out Ali Bon Dubai, the current favourite for the 3200m Listed Racing Association Stakes. The rather cheerful name comes from an amalgamation of one of the owners’ daughters and Geoff describes the 5yo son of Lateral as a ‘lovely, easy guy who is very professional to work with in every way.” Mark Khan (who won on him last time out) has been engaged for the ride, they have a 6 draw and have been assigned 58.5kgs. “He’s gone up 4kgs in the weights, which is quite a jump, but he did win with a lot in hand last time out, so I’m hoping he can handle it. All being well, he’s the type of horse that we’d be looking to run in the Gold Cup next year,” he concludes.

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