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Capetonian Racing All Rounder Ken Truter has been owning racehorses for some 40 years and in the Vaughan Marshall-trained Linebacker he has yet another top campaigner running in his and his wife Jane’s familiar white and blue colours. 

He recalled the purchase of the son of Captain Of All.

“Vaughan always  spends about two or three days at the sales selecting horses he likes as he has a very good eye. I have been in ownership for a long time and like studying pedigrees and we then see where we overlap and then spend about three-quarters of a day together looking at those ones. Linebacker (bred by Klawervlei Stud) was a stunning individual on conformation and looks. R425,000 was a bit more than I had wanted to pay. I would have thought paying that amount would be okay for a Captain Al but not for a Captain of All!”

One of the underbidders was Cheryl Gabler. 

She approached Ken after he had landed her and asked for a leg.

“I replied it was only a pleasure,” recalled Ken. “Jane and I kept the other three legs.”

Being a member of the second crop of the Equus Champion Sprinter Captain Of All, Ken said most interested parties had believed Linebacker would be a 1200m to 1400m horse.

However, he himself differed as he could see there was some staying blood further down the pedigree (he always looks as far as the third dam) and conformationally Linebacker did not look like an out and out sprinter. 

Ken is an easy owner to train for as he knows a lot about the sport and does not harass trainers with daily or even weekly questions.

He therefore did not know what to expect when Linebacker made his debut over 1200m at Kenilworth on 7 July 2020. 

However, he could not have expected much in the on-course build up because Linebacker drifted right out to 55/1 in the face of strong support for his stablemate Seeking The Stars.

The latter had made a promising debut and duly shortened from 2/1 into 17/10.

However, LInebacker won by a comfortable one length from the useful Somerset Maugham with the subsequent three-times Graded-stakes winner Seeking The Stars beaten 2,50 lengths.

Ken recalled, “Seeing the authority with which he won, I realised straight away we had a good horse.”

The other aspect of that day he remembered was that Cheryl Gabler had missed the race.

“She got the times wrong and was so upset with herself!” he chortled. 

However, she was in time to have a celebratory glass of champagne with Jane.

Linebacker became more than just a good horse and had he won the Grade 1 Cape Guineas, instead of being a narrow and unlucky second, he likely would have been named Equus Three-year-old champion.

He was caught about four wide throughout and Ken said it was “a miracle” he had still gone so close.

He followed that run by winning the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby, the Grade 2 WSB Guineas and the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 before finishing a half-a-length second in the Grade 1 Durban July.

It was not the first-time Ken had to deal with disappointment in the Cape Guineas.

One of the best horses he owned, the David Ferraris-trained Glamour Boy (Model Man), also finished second in the Cape Guineas after not taking to the left hand turn and changing legs continuously.

Ironically, the winner on that occasion was Captain Al, who jumped from the widest draw of all.

However, the defeat did pay dividends for Ken in the long run, because it was a strong memory and he therefore bought shares in Captain Al when he went to stud.

No further needs to be said to any racing person on what a fine decision that was!

It also led to him owning the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes winner, the Justin Snaith  Emerald Cove.

Ken also owned another top class progeny of Captain Al, the Vaughan Marshall-trained One World.

This magnificent thoroughbred provided him with a career highlight by winning the prestigious Sun Met, a dream race to win for anybody but especially for a Capetonian.

He recalled, “The way he won, beating a helluva strong field (it included the like of Rainbow Bridge, Hawwaam, Do It Again, Vardy, Twist Of Fate, Undercover Agent etc.). and beating Rainbow Bridge in that ding-dong tussle with the best jockey in the world Ryan Moore aboard Rainbow Bridge!”

Ken is now very much looking forward to One World’s first runners as he said his first foals had looked great.

All this is a far cry from Ken’s entry into racing when a University friend suggested they take a lease in a horse to help out a trainer he knew who was battling.

The horse was owned by South African Turf Club Chairman Roger Caradoc-Davies and the friends had to dip into their beer kitty to pay for the training fees.

Ken recalled the horse to be past his best and he did not win any further races but added, “We had tremendous fun owning him.”

The bug had bitten and he continued, “Some say I was the stupidest member of the syndicate because I was the only one who continued in racing!”

He concluded by saying Linebacker had been doing very well at Summerveld and would be taking the usual route for top class older horses into the Hollywoodbets Durban July i.e. Saturday’s Grade 2 IOS Drill Hall Stakes and then the Grade 1 wfa Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge on June 11.

He elaborated, “I was speaking to Dean Kannemeyer about it … Linebacker just seems to be one of those horses who flourishes in Durban, he just seems to come well there.”

Picture: Ken And Jane Truter (nearest) and Cheryl Gabler lead in Linebacker after his victory in the Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby last year. (Wayne Marks).