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Gr 1 Jonsson Wokwear Cape Derby-winner Linebacker had an elastic-like action and thrived in KZN as a three-year-old. He beat Kommetdieding in both the Gr 2 WSB Guineas (pictured) and Gr 1 Daily News 2000 before losing to the latter by half-a-length in the 2021 Durban July (Picture: Chase Liebenberg)

Mark van Deventer (Cape Racing)

2021 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby and Daily News hero, Linebacker has been retired from racing. Part owner Ken Truter announced that the six-year-old gelding will live out his years at the equestrian paradise of Val de Vie, near Paarl.

Linebacker, bred at Klawervlei Stud, by Captain of All ex Thin Red Line, was a paragon of consistency as a two, three, and four-year-old in races at the highest level. An unexpected 55/1 longshot winner on debut in a soft ground sprint in July 2020, he subsequently competed with distinction exclusively in Graded races for the next couple of years.

Trained by astute Milnerton- based horseman, Vaughan Marshall, he placed in the Langerman (when pipped by Jet Dark), Cape Classic, Concorde Cup and Cape Guineas (suffered a tough beat behind Russian Rock).

Linebacker really peaked during 2021 – reeling off a succession of top-quality performances. Within six months, he took out the G1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby, G2 World Sports Betting Guineas, G1 Daily News (beating stable companion, Rascallion, as was the case in the Derby) before narrowly succumbing by half a length to rival three-year-old, Kommetdieding in the Hollywoodbets Durban July.

Linebacker was by no means done and would run other laudable races at G1 level as a four-year old. Third in a cracking G1 World Sports Betting Cape Town  Met of January ’22 under a length off Kommetdieding and Jet Dark, then being just edged out in a rough tussle by Al Muthana in the G1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge in June make the highlights reel.

Unfortunately, he suffered a brutally turbulent passage in the ’22 Hollywoodbets Durban July won by Sparkling Water, and was arguably not the same horse since. In that rodeo show, he was knocked badly at the start, cut into during the race, and hit by clods of soil in the eyes, which led to ulcers.

Prior to that debacle, Linebacker was a no-problem horse – strong, durable, and feisty.

He did somehow manage fourth spot behind his nemesis, Jet Dark in the HKJC World Pool Champions Cup at his follow-up, but that was practically the last worthwhile race Linebacker could muster despite the best efforts of his expert conditioner, and patience of Truter, his wife Jane and fellow owners, Reiner and Cheryl Gabler.

Linebacker stayed in training at six, running in eight subsequent races before connections called time after the last run of his career in December ’23. At the peak of his powers, he sported an OMR of 126, whilst the respected, Raceform organisation awarded him a rating of 114.

Said Gabler, a truly devoted owner who loves her horses and, for whom Linebacker provided a lifelong dream, first-ever G1 success,” I’ve grown attached to him and planned my whole life around Linebacker’s schedule the last few years. He’s very special so I’ve felt bereft for the past month. But I’m relieved that he is going to an amazing home, which makes this farewell easier.”

When all parts were in working order, the four-time winning bay, (he also placed second on six occasions) could launch a dashing late surge, which combined with his inherent gameness made Linebacker a formidable foe in contests between 1600m – 2200m.