The Kalmansons of Varsfontein have nurtured some fine female families since the stud’s inception and it goes without saying that the exploits of Master Sabina and Green Pepper at the recent Sansui Summer Cup meeting, have single-handedly revived the fortunes of its foundation mare Kendal Green.
Foaled in 1970, Kendal Green was by the standout stallion New South Wales, while her dam, the stakes winner Sylvan Lady (Royal Pardon), counted amongst her siblings the dual Paddock winner Country Cousin and Sceptre Stakes victress Tabor.
Sylvan Lady’s matings with New South Wales proved a recipe for success, yielding not just Kendal Green, but also Germiston Cup winner Green Country and Gosforth Park Fillies queen Halloween. However, Kendal Green proved superior to both on the track and became a classic winner when carrying John Kalmanson’s silks to a career-best victory in the Gr.1 Cape Fillies Guineas.
Retired to the broodmare paddocks as a six-time winner, Kendal Green dropped her first foal at age seven and went on to produce a dozen more before her death at age 24. The best of her six winners was by far the Del Sarto colt This England and he added some respectability to her accomplishments as a broodmare with a surprise win in Greyville’s Gr.1 Administrator’s Champion Stakes as a juvenile.
Nevertheless, a number of Kendal Green’s daughters duly joined their dam in the Varsfontein paddocks, the most successful of which has proven to be the Model Man filly Batimamselle. Foaled when her dam was already 23, she was retained by the farm but managed just a single win before returning to Varsfontein where to date, she has produced 13 foals, and all but one of her ten runners have tasted success on the racetrack.
Her second foal Sabina Park, a Sportsworld filly, was sent to the 2002 National Yearling Sale where she caught the eye of trainer Ormond Ferraris and first-time owner Michael De Broglio, who snapped her up for R55,000.
Sabina Park became a perfect example of ‘beginner’s luck’, rewarding her owner by earning over a million Rand in a career spanning just two seasons. Winner of the SA Fillies Nursery at two and runner-up in the Golden Slipper, she came into her own as a three-year-old when handing SA Fillies Classic victress Angelina a 3.50-length drubbing in the SA Oaks. While both the 2004 outbreak of Equine Flu and niggly injuries subsequently impacted on her career, she raced through her five-year-old year and reached the frame at Gr.2 and Gr.3 level.
At the conclusion of her racing career, De Broglio sent Sabina Park back to Varsfontein, where she has been a boarder ever since.
De Broglio firmly believes in sending good mares to good sires, so opted for champion Jet Master as Sabina Park’s second mating, the resultant foal being Master Sabina.
Sent to trainer Geoff Woodruff (who had also put the finishing touches to Jet Master), the colt was unraced at two but made a pleasing start to his career when fourth over 1200m on debut. He resurfaced four months later to break his maiden at restricted odds and proceeded to make up for lost time by reeling off an eye-catching hat-trick of wins.
The colt opened his four-year-old season with a defeat of Gr.2 winner Halve The Deficit and SA Oaks queen Ilha Bela at Turffontein and after going down by a head in the Gr.2 Victory Moon Stakes, headed straight into the Gr.1 Sansui Summer Cup.
Racing three wide throughout, he fought his way through traffic and in a driving finish, lunged late to go down by a neck to paternal half-brother and stable companion Yorker, who remarkably, was also amongst that 2009 crop foaled and raised at Varsfontein and was bred by stud manager Carl de Vos.
Following a disastrous Cape campaign, Master Sabina was gelded upon his return home and promptly regained the winning trail two months later. Controversially left out of the 2014 July, his connections no doubt felt justified in their belief that the four-year-old was hard done by when he won the Gr.3 consolation race in a time almost two seconds faster than that recorded by winner Legislate in the showpiece race.
Master Sabina’s five-year-old season was restricted to a single start, an effortless four-length victory in his prep run for the 2014 Summer Cup. Then disaster struck. Just days before the big race, his Cup hopes were dashed when he suffered a tendon injury. Master Sabina went to the side-lines, while victory went to stable companion Louis The King.
Woodruff believed Master Sabina would well have won the Cup: “I really fancied him because he was well weighted, so it was a devastating blow.”
Given plenty of time to recover, Master Sabina was off for almost a year and with just one prep run under his belt, was once again allowed to take his chances in the 2015 Sansui Summer Cup.
Prior to the race, Woodruff remarked: “He’s certainly got the class and he’s become the finished article since being gelded. I have no doubt he’ll be the real deal come Summer Cup day.”
Woodruff was fully vindicated in his belief and Master Sabina finally overcome adversity to earn his Gr.1 spurs with a game head victory in the Turffontein race. He thus provided his much missed sire with a second Cup victory in the space of three years.
Twelve months later, the now seven-year-old displayed the heart of a lion and became the first horse in 25 years to complete the Cup double, having fearlessly forced his way between stable companion Master Switch and Durban July winner The Conglomerate befoe scoring by an emphatic length.
Earlier on the day, Master Sabina’s close relative Green Pepper added to the family fortunes when she skated to a flawless victory in the Gr.3 Magnolia Handicap Stakes.
Fresh off an equally impressive score in the Listed Gardenia a fortnight earlier, the three-year-old daughter of champion freshman sire Gimmethegreenlight fully justified her big reputation and after powering her way to the front fully 300m out, she sauntered home untroubled to record her second stakes success, recording a time almost a second faster than that of seasoned sprinter Trip To Heaven in the Merchants.
Trained by Johan Janse van Vuuren, the Varsfontein-bred has suffered defeat just once in five starts and is out of Pimento, a half-sister to Sabina Park.
Unlike her Oaks winning sister and notwithstanding the fact that she is by classic influence Fort Wood, the vagaries of genetics are clearly illustrated in Pimento, whose stamina limitations saw her score just once, that over 1200m. And although Green Pepper’s sire proved himself a tip top miler, her record to date suggests that sprinting will be her forté.