Geoff Woodruff has the Sansui Summer Cup winner Master Sabina fit and well ahead of the Vodacom Durban July.
His big race jockey Gavin Lerena was happy with his final gallop at Randjesfontein yesterday (Wednesday). Lerena was released by the Hong Kong Jockey club about two weeks ago for compassionate leave after the passing of a relative of his, “Uncle George” Scott.
Master Sabina was due to travel down to Summerveld this morning and he will have a canter upon arrival.
Woodruff said his J&B Met run could be ignored. He said, “He was ridden back to front to try and overcome the draw and it didn’t work out.” He needed his last run, on May 21 at Turffontein Inside track, when 6,85 lengths back in a Pinnacle Stakes race over 1800m and it was “factored in as part of his preparation.”
That was his first run for four months. Interestingly, his Summer Cup win was his second run after a one year layoff and followed an unplaced run over the same Turffontein Inside track 1800m as his last run.
Summer Cup winners have a poor winning record in the July, but significantly the last horse to go on to achieve the double was the Woodruff-trained El Picha in the 1999/2000 season.
El Picha also became the second horse in history to defend his July crown.
Master Sabina has proved his liking for the July course and distance in the past as he was an impressive winner of the consolation race, the Gr 3 tabGold 2200, in 2014, although he did it off a 100 merit rating. He is now merit rated 108, meaning he is one of a mere five horses in the July who are not officially under sufferance.
He is drawn eight which should allow him to do it the way he likes it and that is to come from a midfield position.
Gavin Lerena won on him in the Summer Cup off a 105 merit rating from draw 7. He carries the identical weight on Saturday of 56,5kg and also face French Navy on the same terms despite having beaten him by 0,6 lengths.
On paper this relatively lightly raced six-year-old must have a big shout.
Ramsden has Striker advantage
Joey Ramsden continues to be happy with his Vodacom Durban July pair St. Tropez and The Conglomerate.
The pair have a hard task on paper being 3,5kg and 2,5kg under sufferance respectively according to official merit ratings.
The Conglomerate has never quite recaptured the form which saw him running on strongly to win last season’s Gr 2 KRA Guineas off the back of a fast pace. However, in his last two starts over 1900m and 1800m at Greyville respectively, where he stayed on into the money, the potential effect of his finish was blunted by a pace which was not strong enough on either occasion.
Furthermore, the Australian-bred by Lonhro has always looked a sort who would relish the July trip. He was one of a number of unlucky horses in last year’s July when finding his path completely blocked on the outside rail at a stage where he looked to still have plenty in the tank.
Ramsden said at the July final field and draw ceremony The Conglomerate had been putting in tremendous work at home, so he was disappointed, to say the least, to draw the very outside barrier position of 20, which will come into 18 on Saturday in an 18 horse line up.
On the plus side brilliant jockey Piere Strydom will be aboard. In Strydom’s third July win in 2012, he won from the very outside berth of 20 on Pomodoro.
Strydom said about The Conglomerate’s draw yesterday (Wednesday): “It’s not nice at all. Number one you give away start. Number two I need to get lucky by either getting ahead or for there to be enough pace to enable me to slot in, otherwise I will be caught wide again.”
He said about his chances, “I can’t say I have a good chance. Anton had the pick of the Markus Jooste crop, but there is still a chance though, because on form they are very close to one another.”
Speaking about his last July win from the outside draw, he said: “I was worried about the draw on Pomodoro but he had ability, he was a good sort. Whether The Conglomerate is as good, I am not sure.”
St. Tropez is typical of a four-year-old Silvano gelding in that he is progressive and the best might not yet have been seen of him, so his relatively lowly 99 merit rating could well be misleading. His running on second in his last start, the Gr 2 Betting World 1900, followed a six month layoff and Anton Marcus has been pleased with his work since, so he should be spot on.
He has had three runs at Greyville for a win and two seconds. Last year he ran in the July consolation race, the Gr 3 tabGold 2200, and was left with too much to do by a rider with not much experience of the course, although he was staying on well and finished a 3,25 length second. He jumps from draw ten on Saturday, which might be a fair draw as it will give Marcus options.
Marcus is going for a record-breaking fifth July win, while Ramsden is seeking his first July winner.
Ramsden runs Gr 1-winner King Of Pain in the Gr 3 SABC Gold Vase over 3000m where he carries topweight of 60kg and has a plum draw of two with Bernard Fayd’Herbe up. Ramsden said this six-year-old Greys Inn gelding had missed a week of work recently due to a foot issue, so was not quite as fit as he would have liked him, but he added the horse could not be in a better place mentally.
King Of Pain’s biggest career win in the Gr 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m in 2014 followed a four month break. In his only attempt at 3000m or beyond he was an impressive winner of the Gr 3 CTS Chairman’s Cup over 3200m at Kenilworth In February this year under the rider who knows him best, Fayd’Herbe.
Ramsden was of the opinion the track was hard at Scottsville when six-year-old Captain Al gelding Disco Al was defending his crown in the Gr 3 Track And Ball Derby over 2400m two Sundays ago and it had not suited him. He has been freshened up to run in Saturday’s Gr 3 Delta Air Lines 2200 from a plum draw of five under Strydom off an unchanged merit rating of 101.
He has proved effective over this sort of trip before and won Port Elizabeth’s biggest race, the Gr 3 Betting World Algoa Cup over 2000m, in both 2013 and 2014.