Buller Benton

1934-2015

Buller Benton

Buller Benton (1934-2015)

Buller Stuart Benton is probably best remembered as the private trainer to ‘beef baron’ Cyril Hurwitz and for his association with the great colt, Bold Tropic.

Buller started life in Durban in 1934 and became a jockey by virtue of being small and sharing a classroom with some of the apprentices of the day. He got his riding license in 1949 and was a contemporary to the likes of ‘Big Race’ Joe Byrnes. He rode with success for Herman Brown Snr, most notably in Port Elizabeth. Brown says “He was a hard working fellow. He was always a very good friend of mine and I can only talk well of him.”

Buller hung up his boots in 1955 and joined Fred Rickaby as an assistant. When the yard’s main patrons, Chris and Doug Saunders, elected to move the string to Cape Town, Buller struck out on his own. Pharamond was a notable early success, but it was after meeting Cyril Hurwitz that his fortunes really changed. They enjoyed much success with horses such as Frisky (Revlon Charlies Handicap) and Have A Fling (who won the Holiday Inns with the 3rd year apprentice, Kevin Shea). Anne Upton remembers “Buller did well for Hurwitz. He was an extremely difficult man to train for. If you got anything wrong, you’d get both barrels of the shotgun!”

1979 Cape Guineas

Bold Tropic wins the 1979 Cape Guineas in a nailbiter with Horatius

Hurwitz later moved his horses to Fred Rickaby and when Rickaby retired, Buller inherited the string, including Bold Tropic, then a very promising juvenile. The Hurwitz fortunes waned and Benton joined Terrance Millard in the mid 80’s. “Paddy Kruyer had just left and I was having a terrifically strong run at the time, so I said ‘come and work for me.’ Him and his wife came down and my run continued. We got on very well and he was with me until I retired in 1991.”

Benton worked for Ricky Maingard for 2 years and then helped his son Craig get set up as a trainer. Latterly, Benton worked as an estate agent and then spent a number of years helping out at the South African Jockeys Academy.

Buller’s wife Pam passed away early last year, a blow he never quite recovered from. Buller fell ill in January and passed away this morning, aged 81. He leaves behind twin sons Steve and Craig and younger son Peter.

Felix Coetzee knew Buller throughout his career. “Mr Benton was a powerful trainer and gave me a number of rides as an apprentice, including my first feature runner, Cape Cornwall. I worked for him again with Mr Millard and then again during my short period at the Academy. He always had lots of stories to tell and he was always particularly proud of his boys. It’s a sad day for me today. He was a good man.”

Funeral arrangements are still to be confirmed.

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