SA Superstar dies
Legendary South African champion Horse Chestnut has died. He was 19 and the cause of death has been attributed to heart failure.
A son of recently deceased champion sire Fort Wood and South African Broodmare Of The Year London Wall, Horse Chestnut was bred and owned by Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer. The first runner, and winner, for his sire, Horse Chestnut grabbed the imagination of the South African racing public as few other thoroughbreds ever did.
The sturdy chestnut won nine of his ten career outings, suffering his only defeat at two when third in the Gr3 Morris Lipschitz Juvenile Plate to subsequent Grade 1 winner Clifton King.
South Africa’s Horse Of The Year and Champion 3yo Colt in 1998, Horse Chestnut was undefeated subsequently winning the South African Triple Crown, waltzing home to land the Gr1 Cape Guineas, Gr1 SA Classic and Gr1 SA Derby respectively, and prestigious Gr1 J&B Met. The latter was a special triumph for the champion, who drew clear to thrash champions Classic Flag and Faralomond by eight lengths and eight and a half lengths respectively.
Exported to North America, the Mike de Kock trained champion won his sole start in the USA, the Gr3 Broward Handicap, by five and a half lengths, before injury forced his retirement to Claiborne Farm in 2000.
Horse Chestnut’s stood at Claiborne until 2008, and left behind the likes of Lucifer’s Stone (Gr1 Garden City Breeders Cup Hcp), Spanish Chestnut (Gr2 San Rafael Stakes) and Askbut I Won’ttell (Gr3 Cardinal Handicap).
The champion was later returned to South African in 2009, where his first crop included the Gr1 contender Rake’s Chestnut, as well as Gr3 winner Chestnut’s Rocket and Zimbabwean classic heroine Demitasse. Horse Chestnut’s second South African crop has already produced the highly talented stakes winner Banbury.
Horse Chestnut’s death is a truly sad loss to the South African racing and breeding industry and Gaynor Rupert, who stood the champion at her Drakenstein Stud, said, “It was a privilege to stand such a horse of tremendous importance in South African racing history. He was a gentleman and loved by all the staff at Drakenstein. As one of the first two stallions of the farm it was something special for all at the stud to watch the friendship and bond develop between him and Trippi over the years. He will be sorely missed.”
His legacy lives on through his daughters, responsible for such Grade 1 winners as Suggestive Boy, as well as potential Triple Crown contender Ocho Ocho Ocho, the unbeaten winner of the 2014 Gr3 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes.
At the time of his death Horse Chestnut, arguably the finest racehorse ever bred in South Africa, was standing for a fee of R25 000.