GABRIEL “Gabi” Soma has left the employ of his uncle, trainer Joe Soma, to start his own bloodstock agency, MGAS Bloodstock. He explains his decision and talks about his new business in our ‘7 Questions’ Series.
TT You were assistant trainer to Joe Soma for several years. Tell us about the experience.
G It was truly priceless to work with a horseman like my uncle. He is a great trainer and one of the best judges of yearlings, perhaps one of the best in the world. We had six Gr1 winners in the last six years from shoestring budgets, he picked them all as single buys at the various sales, including Happy Landing and Lobo’s Legend.
TT What made you decide to leave?
G I assessed my situation in a stable that can’t get much support despite delivering consistently big results, and the economic situation and the situation with racing. I am 31, I needed to look at my future and I decided to take a leap.
TT What does MGAS stand for and how has the market responded?
G It stands for “Middleman” Gabriel A Soma Bloodstock, the market I want to serve needs a middleman. I devised a Horses In Training Sale scheduled for 11 December at 12pm, at Turffontein. I have 92 entries of very good quality and I am delighted with that. People don’t put horses on sales because it costs them entry fees and transport fees. I have eliminated that, will only be charging my standard commission per sale. Horses coming to the sale will be transported free from Randjesfontein and the Vaal.
There are 20 runners to be sold “in absentia”, they will remain in KZN or the Cape until sold. I am grateful, the response has been phenomenal. We have decent horses from Mike de Kock, including Only To Win and Indy Ice, a good few from Andrew Fortune including Monaco Maiden second placed Captain Hindsight and two runners-up in baby races; Joe Soma has sent several including African Adventure and Roll Of Drums, Geoff Woodruff’s Baron Rodney is a nice horse, he will be available; Glen Kotzen has entered nine, Paul Peter has got 13 on the sale with Bold Matador and Casual Wear among them, Grant Knowles has an unraced Dynasty colt, Sean Tarry’s Purple Diamond is in the sale along with a few other decent stablemates. There are some nice buys to look forward to!
TT Do you think the interest in this sale is an indication of people getting out of the game, or just finding the right place to offset?
G I don’t believe this is by any means a warning signal. Owners are getting a good deal and trainers are clearing stables for new arrivals.
TT The export protocols and EU audit is in the news, and we now have people saying it will make no difference if audit is successful. What is your view?
G It will undoubtedly make a serious difference and the reasons are obvious. Big overseas buyers will be able to spend and get their purchases out quickly. It will have a spin-off effect in several areas, including sponsorships and jobs. The breeders will be the biggest benefactors and it will be essential that they re-invest, and sponsor races so we can have more high stakes races. The downside of lifted export restrictions will be that sales prices will go up and arguably only a small band of owners will be able to compete.
TT You are one of a small brigade of active young racing fans including Kathryn Ralphs, Chris Santos and Justin Vermaak. What can be done to ‘make the circle bigger’?
G To my mind the young numbers will grow with support from the older folk in racing. There is a lack of help. The older establishment must realise that racing can grow and flourish if the youngsters coming through are given a chance. The elders are often apathetic.
TT What is your Summer Cup fancy?
G I think it’s a good field with a great top weight in Soqrat, the one to beat. It’s perhaps a two horse-race with Barahin, I think Barahin is my marginal choice, he seems best suited to this race.