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A Right Royal Shock

Formbook on its head as KZN raider blows them away

Punters probably didn’t entirely share raceday patron HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco’s elation that the KZN underdog Camphoratus had stormed home to win the R1 million Gr1 Empress Club Stakes at Turffontein.

That was on a Saturday where most had probably wished that they had rather gone shopping with the wife or watched a movie!

While the underprivileged were the big winners on the Royal Raceday, thanks to the combined efforts of the SA-born Monaco royal and Phumelela, the hardened 364 day a year players were left punch-drunk with carryovers in both the Turffontein and Durbanville Pick 6’s.

Strides before the line, Camphoratus (Gareth Wright, down inside) chases Running Brave (Devin Habib) as Richard Fourie and Oh Susanna are relegated to fourth place (Pic – JC Photos)

But there is no detracting from a performance of heroic firsts from the KZN raider Camphoratus, who made a mockery of her 95 rating to storm home and give all of jockey Gareth Wright, father-and-son trainer combination Robbie and Shannon Hill, and her well-performed sire Byword, respective maiden Gr1 successes.

The fillies and mares weight-for-age contest looked a walk in the park on paper for SA Horse Of The Year Oh Susanna, who was running fresh off an 11 week break post her unplaced Sun Met effort.

Gareth Wright – a memorable day

Given a perfect ride by regular pilot Richard Fourie, the daughter of Street Cry came under pressure 300m out as Running Brave and Nafaayes threw their hats into the ring.

After having tracked pacesetter Redberry Lane all the way round, Running Brave dug deep and clung to the lead under Devin Habib as Oh Susanna became squeezed between the leaders late.

With Running Brave looking to finally get lucky after narrow second placed finishes in the Three Troikas and Gauteng Fillies Guineas, Gareth Wright unleashed the 66-1 Flamboyant Stakes winner Camphoratus from midfield.

Winding her way towards the inside rail, the chestnut with the white blaze finished with a sustained burst to grab the luckless Running Brave two strides from the line to register a shock win by a head in a time of 98,49 secs.

A prince meets a real Princess – Robbie Hill receives his trophy from Princess Charlene (Pic – Tabnews)

Gauteng Fillies Guineas winner Nafaayes stayed on nicely a length back with the favourite Oh Susanna a length further back in fourth.

The Snaiths had been transparent in their cautionary notices about the distance, the possible impact of the altitude and the rigours of the road trip for Oh Susanna. In the end they were right and her defeat sets up a mouthwatering needle return match in the SA Champions Season.

On the other side of the coin, Camphoratus has been based in Gauteng for a while with Geoff Woodruff at Randjesfontein, and showed the benefit of her two prep runs recently in the province.

She was bred by Rob and Michele Pickering, who sourced and originally stood her sire Byword (Peintre Celebre) before he was sold and relocated to Mauritzfontein.

Camphoratus was purchased for R50 000 by Hill Racing off the 2016 KZN Sibaya Yearling Sale and is out of an unraced US bred Horse Chestnut mare Wild Camphor.

Camphoratus has won 5 races with 6 places from 18 starts for stakes of R1 100 575.

Byword is one of 12 Gr1 winners sired by French champion Peintre Celebre (by Nureyev), and is out of former Broodmare Of The Year Binche, dam of four time Gr1 winner Proviso. This is the same family as 2015 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint winner Peniaphobia and US champion racemare Wandesta.

Byword wins the Prince of Wales's Stakes

Byword,winning the Gr1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Royal Ascot

Byword was champion older horse in France, the highest rated grass horse in the world in 2010 with a Timeform rating of 126 and he is the only winner of the Gr1 Prince of Wales Stakes ever to stand at stud in South Africa.


Gr1 Empress Club Stakes (SAf-Gr1)

Turffontein, South Africa, April 13, R1 million, 1600m, turf, soft, 1.38.49

1 – CAMPHORATUS (SAF), 60.0, ch f 4, Byword (GB) – Wild Camphor (USA) by Horse Chestnut (SAF). Owner Messrs L J Muir, S Manicom, G R Sadleir & Mr & Mrs Rob Pickering T/A Middlefield Stud; Breeder R & Mrs Pickering; trainer RA Hill/SR Hill; jockey G Wright
2 – Running Brave (SAF), 57.5, b f 3, Brave Tin Soldier (USA) – Movingandgrooving (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF)
3 – Nafaayes (AUS), 57.5, b f 3, Exceed And Excel (AUS) – Decelerator (USA) by Dehere (USA)
Margins: 0.20, 1.00, 1.00

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17 comments on “A Right Royal Shock

  1. Rian says:

    Well done Robbie Hill a fantastic training feat and a feather in your cap
    Just goes to show the M/R bullshit that we have to put up with

  2. Julian says:

    Followed the combination ever since they got up to Gauteng with this horse, Great win Gareth and congrats to Robbie and Shannon amazing horse

  3. Jay August says:

    The tote odds fairly accurately reflected the winners chances based on pre-race form – 2 wins in 100 reruns. There is nothing wrong with the MR system at all. Outliers exist all the time in horse racing and in life. No exception here. To plagiarise Nassim Taleb, people are always fooled by randomness, .

    What would be interesting is to understand what lead anyone to bet the winner to win, other than as a value bet. Who really can make a cogent case that this horse should have won more than 2 in 100 attempts at this race?

    It is nice though to see someone else taking the spoils in the big races, over and above the usual suspects.

  4. Karen says:

    It annoys me when people are unhappy about the Jockey. Why can’t people just give credit where it is due. Wish the punters would stop being so negative. Try being more positive and things might just change for you.

  5. Josh Brown says:

    Agree with MR crab

  6. Jay August says:

    Which jockey has been abused this time? Odd comment!


    Karen, there doesn’t seem to be any negative comments about Gareth Wright’s glory day. Most people love it when the underdog “sticks it to them”.

    The concern here is that the Empress Club race is Joburg’s premier Fillies & Mares race and about the fourth/fifth most important race for the girls/ladies in South Africa.

    Now, we all know that Camphoratus doesn’t know her merit rating and that Gareth didn’t award her a that rating prior to her win, but without any solid reasons as to why the top 4 didn’t ran anywhere near the ratings, the race is like a BIG HOLE ?

    Mr. Ed …I tried to find the Stipes report for comments about Oh Susanna, Fresnaye & Cascapedia performances but it hadn’t been uploaded yet.

    It looks like the Durban trainers are eating something different to the others …a doggy bag for a member of the public, please…pretty please

  8. Barry van Biljon says:

    Well done to Ashley McNab for having the vision to buy Byword and bring him to SA , your mates salute you Ash [email protected]

  9. Brian says:

    Heck Karen, not sure what you’re on about? My gripe about Jockeys will probably never get aired but I’ve just watched a race at Kimberly where the jockey fell asleep at the jump where he was drawn 1. He then decided to take the long way around the turn from the back and the result was a horse that usually places runs unplaced.
    That is not poor jockeyship, it’s disgusting.

  10. Donald says:

    Well said Brian agree with your comments about that ride in the 4th race in Kimberly today by a senior jockey – watching for the stipes report on that ride or were they also asleep ?

  11. Donald says:

    Apologies and correction to the above comment – should read 4th race and NOT 3rd race – guilty of being asleep myself so accept 3 month suspension without an option of a fine !

  12. Hogan Govindsamy says:

    One for the KZN boys – well done guys.Wish they give the WC and Gauteng guys a run for their money this upcoming champion season.By the way who was Andrew Bon trying to impress with the Bob Baffert quote?

  13. Chris Swart says:

    I’m sure if you could quote off the cuff from Baffert, Brown, O’Brien, Asmussen, Appleby, Gosden, Hannon, Pletcher, Johnston, Mott or Hollendorfer you might garner more respect and understanding of the sport

  14. Hogan Govindsamy says:

    Chris ,you are clearly a supporter of Andrew but the sad thing is he bores me.You forgot to list the surnames alphabetically so that I could garner more respect and understanding of the sport.One more thing – which O’ Brien and which Hannon.We all admire and respect the sport of horseracing or we wont take our time to put forward comments on this forum.How does some obscure quote draw in a new audience to racing.Do you think the young generation cares about this.They need to be entertained – too many presenters on tellytrack have passed their sell by date .How many young soccer enthusiasts know of Alec Ferguson or Michael Owen owning racehorses so that we can appeal to their current passion to overlap into horseracing.They are sitting at home watching Tellytrack with their dads but cant be bothered because the presenter decides to say something that does not tickle a tiny interest.Horseracing is in trouble and the old dogs that are set in their ways are not going to fix it – a fresh perspective is what is needed.We can start with a better presenting.

  15. Chris Swart says:

    Which is a quote from a trainer that achieved history after a 37 years and repeated it again.
    Clearly you’re living under a stone if you aren’t aware of a dual Triple Crown winning trainer that has also won a World Cup with Arrogate.

    Going off on your tangent about youth it’s the champions and achieving the feats such as this that draw the youth in.

    I’d rather hear a quote from a great trainer than an interruption to announce dividends.

    Your TV has a mute Use it

  16. Hogan Govindsamy says:

    One thousand humble apologies Chris – please excuse me while I return to my stone to deeply ponder the arrogance of your assumptions.

  17. Desiree says:

    Well done to Camphoratus – she ran her heart out. What a stellar win for Robbie and Shannon Hill. Congrats!

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