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.
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.
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.
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 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