Review: Woodruff bounces back into form with 3 winners

Review: Woodruff bounces back into form with 3 winners

<p>JACK MILNER<br />
BAD runs are relative. Last season Geoff Woodruff trained just 92 winners and accumulated a trifle more than R6.8 million in stakes. The former champion trainer finished eighth on the national trainers&rsquo; log.<br />
<br />
<br />
Photo: Geoff Woodruff</p>

<p>While for Woodruff those stats are below par, many trainers would kill for the same results. The likeable handler is confident that all the problems with his string have been sorted out and those words were proven true this weekend when the stable came away with two winners and two second placers from five runners at Saturday&rsquo;s Turffontein meeting and a win and a second from two runners at Clairwood on Sunday.</p>
<p>There are advantages to being viewed as out of form. A year ago, Woodruff supporters battled to get a price on any of his runners. Last Wednesday at Clairwood his well-bred first-timer Chiquita won easily at 6-1 and on Saturday the stable&rsquo;s two winners, Aluminium and Swinging Jet, went off at even-money and 4-1 respectively. At Clairwood, despite some solid form, Jet Alert was allowed to start at 7s for Race 2 and under a great ride from Raymond Danielson, came back strongly to beat 6-10 favourite Chippendale.</p>
<p>So there are ups to being down, although Woodruff is delighted things are coming right. “We&rsquo;ve worked out what the problem was and fortunately all our runners have started to improve,&rsquo;&rsquo; he said. In fact, even Emblem of Liberty, a runner about who Woodruff hardly oozed confidence, ran well to finish a 1.75-length second behind Blue Swift in Race 5 at Clairwood.</p>
<p>On Saturday champion jockey Mark Khan displayed just why he has won the title five times with some spectacular performances earning him a three-timer in Races 3, 4, and 5.</p>
<p>It is rare one gets an obvious present from bookmakers but their decision to chalk up Barend Botes&rsquo;s runner Wood Hyacinth at 5-1 was one of those occasions. Her form in Cape Town was rather poor but the Whistling Wood filly made a great debut for Botes when going down a neck to Diamond Sceptre.</p>
<p>Botes then clearly thought enough of the filly to take her to Clairwood for the Gold Circle Oaks in which she lost five lengths at the start and finished 13.60 lengths behind Front House.</p>
<p>In weak maiden company and with Khan in the irons, Wood Hyacinth looked a stand-out bet and she did shorten to 33-10 at the off. As with his next two winners, Khan got her out of the pens in a flash and sent her to the lead. Turning for home345 she extended her advantage and never looked liked being caught, eventually beating Shooting Season by 2.75 lengths.</p>
<p>In Race 4, Aluminium, who had run a shocker in his only race on the sand last time out, showed he was better suited to the turf. He was well supported in this 1600m Graduation Plate and Khan let him tear off to the front in the fast going.</p>
<p>“I was listening on the phone,&rsquo;&rsquo; said Woodruff, “and getting nervous as the commentator said he was four lengths, then five lengths in front of them.&rsquo;&rsquo;</p>
<p>There was no need for nerves as the Argentine-bred gelding just kept going further and further ahead and eventually beat Major Storm by 11.50 lengths.</p>
<p>Khan had to work harder for his treble as Swinging Jet looked beaten when London Telegraph eased past him at the 200m mark. But the champ stepped on the gas and the Jet Master filly responded well to win by 0.75 lengths. Favourite Lisa Anne ran a strange race and was caught flatfooted when London Telegraph raced past her at the top of the straight. But she found her stride late in the race and ran on strongly for third. She should soon recoup her losses.</p>
<p>* * * *</p>
<p>Purple Orchid was solidly backed in the Grade 3 Champagne Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday and duly obliged. Trained by Darryl Hodgson and ridden by Gerrit Schlechter, the 5-1 shot came from off the pace to win going away.</p>
<p>Victoriana, the only three-year-old in the field and from the Mike Bass yard, looked the winner as she surged into the lead at the 200m pole but she was caught in closing stages by Purple Orchid, who won by 1.50 lengths. There was another 5.25 lengths back to third-placed Quick as Lizard with Girl in Every Port fourth.</p>
<p>Our Table Mountain, favourite for this 1200m race, was never in with a chance and trailed in 11.75 lengths behind the winner.</p>

Views: 1064

Comments are closed.