Geoff Woodruff has won the R2-million Sansui Summer Cup over 2000m on the Turffontein Standside track six times, including the last four runnings. He says he targets the Cup “because it’s there”.
“We always tend to buy stayers and this race suits them. It’s a lovely race, a lovely race day,” said Woodruff.
His previous wins were with El Picha (1999), Eventuail (2002), Yorker (2013), Louis The King (2014), Master Sabina (2015 and 2016).
One thing Woodruff tends to do, if possible, is only give his runners one prep run before taking them into the Summer Cup.
“You’ve got to remember the Joburg horses can end up having a long season. We have this short Spring/Summer season, then we go to the Cape, that’s followed by our long autumn season and then we’re into the KZN winter.
“After that you have to rest them up at the start of the new season, do all your vaccinations and all the tedious servicing. So, what you need is their form to be just good enough to qualify for the Summer Cup and to show they’re in form. You then do all the work at home and by the end of November they are ready to fly. You don’t want to be too well prior to the Summer Cup because you end up getting the most ridiculous penalties.
“As a result, I tend to hold back on them and try not to get to big a weight,” said Woodruff.
This year Woodruff saddles Banner Hill, Pagoda and Master Switch. All three have winning chances but it is Pagoda who is currently joint third favourite at 8-1 with Banner Hill at 14-1 and Master Switch at 16-1.
“Banner Hill had a good warm-up run and has had two nice grass gallops, as has Pagoda. But while Banner Hill is a very good track horse Pagoda is not, although he’s starting to show some decent work right now.”
Pagoda won the Listed Derby Trial over the course and distance, giving weight to all but one runner, and then he went on to finish a 1.75-length second to Al Sahem in the Grade 1 SA Derby over 2450m at Turffontein.
“He’s a very unassuming little horse,” commented Woodruff. “Nobody considered him for the Derby and the winner went on and ran second in the Durban July. There’s the form line!
“Sometimes Pagoda gives himself too much to do so I just hope that with his light weight JP van der Merwe can keep him a little closer to the leaders this time.”
Pagoda is by Mogok out of a former Wolfhound broodmare from Scott Bros. Pagoda is bred by Varsfontein Stud. Mogok has produced four Gr1 winners to date including Orbison, Wild One, The Apache and Gypsy’s Warning.
-extract turftalk.co.za / tabnews.co.za