FIVE times South African champion trainer Geoff Woodruff will likely be attempting a national record in this year’s Sansui Summer Cup, to be held on November 25.

Racing records are poorly kept in SA and in some other racing countries too and there is usually uncertainty surrounding them. However, it is believed Woodruff became the second trainer in SA history to win a major race four years in a row last year when landing the Summer Cup with Master Sabina.

Therefore, he will be attempting to become the first trainer to win a major South African race five years in succession. Fred Murray was believed to be the first to achieve four-in-a-row when training the Durban July winner every year from 1910 to 1913.

The three races in South Africa traditionally considered to be the “majors” are the Vodacom Durban July, the Sun Met and the Sansui Summer Cup.

If it is extended to include the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate, which has risen rapidly in prestige in recent times and is considered South Africa’s most important weight for age event, then Mike Bass can be included alongside Murray and Woodruff. The great Bass-trained Pocket Power won the Queen’s Plate four times in succession from 2007 to 2010.

This year Master Sabina will also be attempting to emulate Java (1956-1958) and Elevation (1972-1974) by winning the Summer Cup three times in succession. However, Master Sabina joined the Justin Snaith yard for the SA Champions Season and is currently with Highveld trainer Joe Soma.

Woodruff still has twelve Summer Cup entries and he said, “You never quite know who your best for the Summer Cup are going to be and some of them won’t qualify. You only narrow it down in the last fortnight.”

However, he did mention two horses, Deo Juvente and Pagoda. Deo Juvente was runner up in 2015 and this year won the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge over the same course and distance, although his merit rating was raised as a result to 115. Pagoda was an easy winner of the Listed Derby Trial over the course and distance and runner up in the Grade 1 SA Derby over 2450m and he is only merit rated 99.

Woodruff said, “Deo Juvente is a big strong horse, but will have a big weight to carry, Pagoda loves the track and trip and will be a lively runner with a low weight.” – David Thiselton/Gold Circle.

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