Skip to main content

Horse Person of the Month for May presented by New Holland: Chad Sabra

May 17, 2024

Happy tears have become a welcome staple in Chad Sabra’s work life.

It is not an uncommon scene, the one when the doting groom is seen shedding a tear or two as his horse heads towards him for the walk to the Woodbine winner’s circle.

“I get very emotional when I see my horse getting closer to me,” said Sabra. “It always makes me cry, but it’s not a sad feeling. For me, it is one of the happiest moments I can experience.”

Just like he did on May 11th.

Sabra, a groom at Woodbine since 2017, has six horses currently under his care at trainer Steven Chircop’s barn on the Toronto oval’s backstretch.

One of those horses is Quiet Maddelena, a 4-year-old filly also owned by Chircop.

Sent off as the 3-5 choice in the last race on that Saturday, the Ontario-bred, under Emma-Jayne Wilson, took the early lead in the 5 ½-furlong sprint over the all-weather track, and then coasted to a 3 ¾-length score for her fourth career victory.

“Steven was so happy, and I was too. I did tear up. She gave everything she had. I was so happy for her.”

Just as Sabra is for every horse under his care.

“I love them, and they show me the same love back. I feel like I am a horse whisperer to them because it feels as though they understand me.”

Chad Sabra on the Woodbine Backstretch (Michael Burns Photo)
Chad Sabra on the Woodbine Backstretch (Michael Burns Photo)

It is a connection Sabra has never once taken for granted at each stop over his seven-year Thoroughbred career.

“[Trainer] Marty Drexler gave me my first opportunity when I started in 2017. He taught me a lot about Thoroughbreds. I came from a horse background, but it was in dressage and show jumping.

“Marty was very encouraging and told me that I was a hard worker. He said I had the ability to be a groom, so I started from there. I went on to work for Darwin Banach, where I stayed for a few years. After that, I started working for Steven.”

For Sabra, the work is deeply rewarding.

“Every day, I come to the barn at three in the morning. I check on each horse to make sure they are happy. I check their feed and water tubs, and then I go around and start mucking my stalls. I make sure we have enough straw to bed down the stalls and then we start our sets. Around 11, I get the feed ready for the horses. I talk to the boss, to make sure if the horses need anything before I leave.”

His thoughts rarely stray from the horses even after he is done for the day.

Next month, if things go according to plan, Sabra will look to acquire his assistant trainer’s license.

And while his title could change, the commitment to his beloved horses will stay very much the same as it is.

“I don’t know if I could ever put into words how lucky I feel to work with these horses, to give them 100 per cent and care for them. I give the horses the best care and I always want everything to be perfect for them.

“I love being around them. That’s why every day is a good day for me.”

Even the ones when he doesn’t shed a happy tear.

Before the race, in the paddock, or after the finish line, win or lose, a half-dozen horses know they will be the recipients of a kind word and a loving pat.

“I will always show them love and care,” said Sabra. “I want them to know they are special to me.”

New Holland ( is supplying a $500 bursary to each Horse Person of the Month recipient in recognition of their significant contributions to our industry.

Chris Lomon, Woodbine

Share This: