Overnight leader Justin Rose managed an even-par 72 to share second place with Joakim Haeggman, Darren Fichardt and Scott Drummond at 11-under-par 205. Darren Clarke was one shot further back at 10-under-par 206.
While scoring among the later groups was not as low as in previous rounds, Cabrera had an earlier start and was able to make a move despite playing the front nine at even par after a pair of birdies and a pair of bogeys.
Cabrera climbed into the lead early on the inward half and dropped his tee shot inside 12 feet for a birdie at the par-3 10th. The 34-year-old then ran home a 6-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 11th to grab a piece of the lead at minus-10.
The hard-hitting Argentine broke free from the pack at the par-5 12th and left his approach within 25 feet of the cup. Cabrera drained the eagle putt to move into the outright lead at 12 under as he parred his way in to hold the top spot with one round to play.
'It was a very good round, this third round. I think I've got a very good chance for tomorrow,' said Cabrera, a two-time winner on the European Tour whose best finish at this event was second in 2001. 'I feel very comfortable on this golf course. I have always said that, and I like it very much.'
Drummond, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday, is a former Challenge Tour player who is looking for a major breakthrough this week.
'It's all happening at the moment,' said Drummond. 'Obviously I was looking forward to this week. Possibly the biggest week of the year for me.'
The Scot stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the first, but recovered with a birdie at the fourth.
He bogeyed the very next hole, but countered again with three consecutive birdies starting at the par-4 eighth. Drummond then hit a 9-iron to 12 feet for a birdie at the 13th and tallied a birdie at the last to complete a 68 of his own.
'I've been swinging it pretty good and striking the ball quite well,' said Drummond, whose best finish on the European Tour this year was a tie for 16th at the dunhill championship. 'Just a case of perseverance, really.'
Rose had an up-and-down round, but managed to remain near the top of the leaderboard throughout the day. After a short par putt lipped out at the par-3 14th, Rose responded with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
The young Englishman then pitched his third shot to 5 feet at the par-5 18th, but was unable to convert for birdie.
'I guess encouraging to be only one shot off the lead, is the way I feel,' said Rose. 'I actually hit the ball today better than I hit it the first two days, and just weird the way this game works. Didn't take my chances today, simple as that. Certainly didn't waste any today and hopefully they will drop tomorrow.'
Fichardt used a strong finish with birdies on each of his last three holes for his share of second.
'I've been close. I won a tournament in South Africa, which is good,' said Fichardt, a two-time European Tour winner. 'But I've just been close. You know how it goes. It either happens or it doesn't happen.'
Haeggman mixed four birdies and two bogeys for a round of 70.
Ernie Els, who held the opening-round lead, struggled again out of the gate with four bogeys on his front side, but was able to right the ship with an eagle and a birdie over his last two holes for a round of 72.
Els was joined by Nick Faldo and Thomas Bjorn in a tie for seventh at 9-under-par 207.