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Neil Bruss Passes Away

Won J&B Met in 2006

One of our most experienced and well-travelled horseman, former trainer Neil Bruss passed away on Wednesday morning after a short illness.

He hailed from a family steeped in horseracing. His father Les registered his silks in 1943 as an owner-trainer and was a founding member of Borrowdale racecourse in 1957.

Neil’s brother Robin is the breeder of the newly crowned SA Horse Of The Year, Do It Again.

Following a training career spanning over four decades in destinations from England to Madagascar and the Middle East, Neil Bruss, a seven-times champion trainer of Zimbawe operated small strings out of Durban and Cape Town in the 21st century and was a forthright no-nonsense horseman and a charismatic and restless spirit.

He will be fondly remembered for his impeccable preparation of Zebra Crossing to win the J&B Met for his brother Robin in 2006. He also proved his prowess when training a PE refugee, Paris Perfect and a rejuvenated former lead horse, Muller into third and fourth place finishes in the 2009 Dubai World Cup.

A straight-talker, Neil Bruss was a well-liked jovial personality who made no secret of the fact that it was a waste of time training in South Africa for a profit of only a few hundred rands per horse, while stakes have gone backwards.

This brought his pioneering spirit into play yet again and he jetted off to Saudi Arabia as recently as 2016.

He won what was to be his final Gr1 there in March 2017 when God’s Speed won the prestigious King Abdulaziz Racetrack Championship Cup.

Neil was married to Sally Jourdaan, Stud Manager at Lammerskraal.

We extend our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.

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35 comments on “Neil Bruss Passes Away

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    Probably the best horseman that ever trained for my stable. A no bullshit straight shooter.

  2. Fiona says:

    Rest in Peace Neil such a cool character who loved life, his family and of course everything to do with horses- such a good eye and talent. Deepest condolences to his brothers, Gareth Robin and Ashley, Sally family and friends. Sad news.. fly high rest easy in the Champs paddocks

  3. Tara says:

    A no bullshit man, a spade was a spade, and a BRILLIANT horseman, our sincere condolences to Sally, family and friends….

  4. Andrew and Sarah Bon says:

    Gone far too soon. A mentor of exceptional influence to so many outstanding trainers. A rare character with an amazingly infectious raspy laugh. A smile that instantly lit up the room. Will be sorely missed. To Sal Rob Gareth Ash and all the family may the Lord give you strength and fortitude. Les will look after you in that great paddock in the Sky. Mhdsrip

  5. Michael Nelson says:

    RIP Neil..A true Legend who loved Sally..We will forever miss you Neil.

  6. Gavin says:

    Rest in peace Neil.. God bless you

  7. Nico Kritsiotis says:

    I grew up at a time when the legendary Neil Bruss was the champion trainer in Zimbabwe. I have fond memories of my early commentating days calling horses the likes of Hachiman, Pashtogena, Veni Vidi Vici in Bulawayo. I eventually got to meet the training genius and we always reminisced of Zimbabwe when we bumped into each other. Neil will be sorely missed in our racing family. My sincere condolences to Robin, Gareth and Ashley and the rest of the family. Neil, your training prowess will be carried long into the future with all your protégés around the world. No time to say goodbye bud!

  8. Carol Storey says:

    Dear Sally, thinking of you & your family at this sad time. Best regards Carol

  9. greg ennion says:

    I have had but two true friends over the years…I now have one😢 RIP my dear friend. I will miss you as long as I am alive . Goodbye my buddy

  10. Michael says:

    RIP Neil it’s your eternal brake

  11. Sarah says:

    Another racing legend returns to the stars. RIP Neil and condolences to the family and all friends

  12. Chauncey Morris says:

    Condolences from Kentucky to Sally and Robin.

  13. Oscar says:

    Rest In Peace Neil.Your incredible achievement with an average horse like Paris Perfect in the world cup will be in our hearts forever.Goodbye.

  14. Anna Androuliakos says:

    A racing legend in Zimbabwe and top trainer rest in peace Neil, depeest and sincere condolences to his family at this sad time

  15. Gavin Macleod says:

    Marondelas / Merrow Down -Les Bruss -Jill ,Robyn MacLeod ,late night road trips to Bulawyo races / three monkeys Inn /Madayan -adrian kelly Edwards/ campballyhooly-TC Hardy ,paul Matchett ,mickey Heath -Ruwa club 6 ball commando -mike Barlow ,and so much more !!.
    WE had Fun and won lots of races along the way
    Cheers Neil
    Lyn & Gavin MacLeod

  16. Mike Wanklin says:

    The first great trainer that I had the pleasure and honour to have associated with in my racing career. I can’t really believe this – Neil and I had a long chat down memory lane just this January at the Cape Sales. Neil was always available to support initiatives in programming and handicapping during my early years in Zim racing. Going to be sorely missed. My condolences to Neil’s family and friends during this time.

  17. zimracing says:

    So very sorry. Thanks for the memories, Neil.

  18. dave mollett says:

    Robin told me at the Equus awards that Neil had taken a backward step, but news of his passing is still like a dagger blow.
    Only seven months ago, the two of us downed a number of bottles of red wine at the CTS Sale in Cape Town. As usual, we had a wonderful few hours and he said “how far’s your hotel?” I said it was 200m away. He said: “We’ll call a taxi.”
    At horse sales, I make a beeline for two people, Neil and the best judge of horseflesh in the country, Lynton Ryan. The sales won’t be the same again.
    His dear wife, Sally, such a delightful lady, can look back at some great times with Neil but – along with the rest of us – have been robbed of more time in his company. He might have got even more cantancrous in his old age, but we’d have loved it!
    Barry Irwin has got it 100% correct. Neil, apart from being a great horseman, was “a no bullshit straightshooter.”
    I feel honoured to have known him so closely. My condolences to the whole family.

  19. Diane says:

    So, so sad, always in my thoughts, condolences to the family, Diane Stuckey Ex Bruss. Will never forget you Neil.

  20. lifeincharente says:

    So so sad, so many wonderful memories, never to be forgotten. I find it hard to believe.that I will never see Neil again. My condolences to all the family especially to Sally who I never met, my thoughts are with her. RIP. Diane Stuckey (Ex Bruss)

  21. Sharon Holland says:

    One of the smartest horseman in the country with a sense of humour and the best racing stories ever.
    your effervescence in matters racing and for that matter everything else will always be remembered with fondness. RIP Neil. My condolences to Sally and family.

  22. Kayla says:

    Grandpa, you will be missed greatly. You were so determined with your horse training and that inspired me every day. You are my greatest hero. We have had such amazing memories together and I treasure them. I hope you are in peace now and aren’t suffering anymore. You will forever be a piece of my heart and I just wish we could have one more moment together. I can’t believe this has happened but I know you are living better now. I will miss you greatly grandpa and I love you so much you can’t explain.

  23. Mickey Heath says:

    Cheers mate sorry I never saw you when you came to Aussie to see Kerry, who we always love to see and your lovely grand kids or to say goodbye. But will always remember the good times together at Ruwa the golf course, the races, in the army or where ever we were together. good humour and fun to be with and thank you for looking after my kids when they were with you and Jill. Mickey and Jane

  24. Editor says:

    A memorial service for the late Neil Bruss will be held on Monday 19 August at 14h00 at
    Fourways Memorial Park – 1 Memorial Ln, Craigavon, Johannesburg

  25. Kerry Osborn (née Bruss) says:

    Thank you Mickey – he was so fond of you and talked of you recently. So sorry he never made it back for another visit as it was his biggest wish. Love Kerry

  26. K says:

    Hmmm his protégés would not have said he was a nice person… We will say he was an outstanding horseman who always put the wellbeing of the horse first and did not needle their joints like some number 1 hitlisters. He was also probably one of the best people to have on your side at the Sales when it came to racing conformation. He was an outstanding horseman.

  27. Jonathan Shaw says:

    During my racing years at Borrowdale Park in the 80’s Neil would regularly saddle 4 winners a meeting – world class phenomenal conditioner of racehorses – will miss you Neil – Jonathan Shaw

  28. JENNY says:

    Such sad news an amazing man who started off training in Rhodesia .His love of racing and mentorship of so many current trainers was next to none. Rest in peace deepest smyphaty to Ashley Gareth and Robin and all his family and friends

  29. Eisa says:

    RiL NeiL. Extraordinary horseman. Condolences to your family. -Al Samawi Stables 🙏

  30. Bruno Mercorio says:

    An inspiration to any person that was involved with the equine. A magic down to earth straight talker. It was a privilege knowing you. May you RIP my friend. Bruno Mercorio

  31. David Ferraris says:

    A very special man with whom I shared a very special bond of friendship. Will miss you dearly Neil.

  32. Russell says:

    Neil I was blessed to ride winners for not only where you an brilliant trainer to said things as you saw it but never ever put one down condolence to Gareth Robin and the Bruss clan RIP SIR

  33. Greg Springer says:

    From Greg Springer.
    Neil you’ve gone to fairer fields with all the Champions of the past. A brilliant Horseman and Champion of the Thouroughbreds. Goodbye my friend you may be gone but you will never be forgotten. Your legacy will live on. Deepest Sympathy to Gareth and the rest of the Family and Friends. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  34. Val Davidson says:

    I have been honored to work for Neil over the years, no less than 3 times. Besides being an absolutely brilliant horseman, he was also a friend. I learned so much from Neil and loved his sense of humor and straight shooter personality. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. A true legend! Thank you Neil for the faith and belief you had in me training your horses and for your kindness, friendship and understanding over the years. My sincere condolences to Robin, Kerry, Sally and their families.

  35. Chip says:

    R.I.P Niel, I’m thankful to have been able to say you were my friend. Till we meet again.

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