THERE are a number of individuals, even in racing, who don’t know that the tall, youthful lawyer in the often-flighted television advert who walks down the steps in his multi-floored office and says, “Hi, I’m Michael De Broglio”, is the same guy who has owned some very good racehorses in South Africa for the last 15 years.

This very same fellow bagged his second successive Gr1 Sansui Summer Cup over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday with Master Sabina, a horse he’d bred from his own mare Sabina Park, which happened to be his first purchase as an owner 15 years ago.

Some of us still chuckle when De Broglio’s adverts come on – promotional shots for lawyers haven’t been done in this in-your-face format on SA TV before. But they’re effective, of course, and part of a slick operation that has brought De Broglio unprecedented success in recent years.

Michael De Broglio.
Michael De Broglio.

De Broglio is a man who nurtures his dreams without looking over his shoulder, or left or right for that matter. When goals appear in the distance, and he believes they can be achieved, he pursues them with no regard to criticism or nastiness.

Way back in 2002, De Broglio went to his first horse auction and bought Sabina Park, a filly by Sportsworld from Batimamselle, for R55,000.  He became obsessed with Sabina Park first, with horseracing next and his dream was to win South Africa’s major races, to make the same mark on racing he has made in his professional field as an attorney. He’s done it now.

It seems like just yesterday when the sometimes over-eager De Broglio appeared on the scene. In 2004 he set up the website, mocked in the industry because it dealt with an owner heaping praise on his own racehorse and actually dissecting every one of her runs from the moment she left her stable to running onto the track to entering the stalls and then racing, and whatever happened thereafter.

Master Sabina (Gavin Lerena), a second riveting win.
Master Sabina (Gavin Lerena), a second riveting win.

De Broglio shrugged off malevolence. Sabina Park won five races, including the SA Oaks. She raced in the Summer Cup herself and won near R1-million in stakes.  At six, she was sent to Varsfontein Stud when her career ended and the first foal that popped out after her visit to Jet Master was Master Sabina, the handsome bay who is seven years old and has a second to show on top of his now two wins in Johannesburg’s most famous race.

The thing is, however, Mike De Broglio missed Master Sabina’s win for the second time running as he resides mostly in the US these days and again decided not to fly over for the race.  “I don’t know why Mike wasn’t here, he didn’t tell me. He commutes between South Africa and the US, he’s in the process of establishing his business interests over there and I guess he just couldn’t make it,” said trainer Geoff Woodruff on Saturday evening, a few hours after his sixth Summer Cup success, still overcome with joy and surrounded by well-wishers.

Perhaps next year De Broglio will pull himself away from duties in the States to see how things actually unfold in his land of birth, as Woodruff is already planning a campaign for Master Sabina he hopes will end in a third Cup victory for the popular runner. Nobody will bet against him and his fortunate owner, because good fortune tends to follow the types who pursue it with vigour.

Woodruff  added: “We carefully picked Master Sabina’s races after he won last year and we’ll go the same route. He loves racing, he’s like a teenager and we’ll earmark just five or six runs for him before next year’s Cup. He’s got the heart of a lion.”

Woodruff praised the wonderful talent, Gavin Lerena, for another super ride, saying:  “Well done to Gavin for persevering.”

Lerena, who was registering his third Sansui Summer Cup win, commented: “Master Sabina was just so well today and even though the race didn’t go for me early, his heart and determination made the difference in the end. When that gap closed on us at the 200m, it was a real test of courage. I just want to say well done to the whole team and particularly to Thomas and Amos,” he said.

Groom Amos, who has looked after Master Sabina his entire career, took his horse on a short victory trot around the parade ring after the race, all whistling and dancing to an appreciative crowd.

The race result, for those who missed it:

1st 4 Master Sabina, 2nd: 5 The Conglomerate, 3rd: 13 Master Switch, 4th: 10 Liege.
Time: 124,44s. Distances: 1.30l; .30; 3.30.