A Ferrari In A World Of Opels

Frikkie Greyling pays tribute to Horse Chestnut

Frikkie Greyling

Frikkie Greyling – ‘never seen another horse like him and don’t think I will’

Assistant trainer and former jockey Frikkie Greyling was a ‘babysitter’ for many years to the champion Horse Chestnut. He slept at the stables while armed guards patrolled the premises in the build-up to his sensational Met win and also at Randjesfontein in the weeks prior to the SA Classic.

The 41 year old Greyling came out of his time in 1992 and rode for six years before weight problems forced him to hang up his boots. He was offered a job immediately by Mike De Kock, for whom he had ridden many winners.

“The timing was very good. One day this magnificent athletic chestnut arrived at the yard. He was just different. He had a presence about him and was so laid back – a true professional. His name was Horse Chestnut.”

“I was his main work-rider and as a 2yo he was quite lazy. I would say almost half asleep. He was very chilled and laid back. He had this amazing energy saving demeanour. His early work was unbelievable and was comparable to that produced by multiple Gr1 winning horses. When we galloped him on the grass the first time, he beat a Gr1 winner.”

Greyling has been associated with some big horses in his 25 years in the game.

Horse Chestnut wins the 1998 Dingaans

Horse Chestnut wins the 1998 Dingaans

“Golden Hoard was the last big horse I rode for Mike. But we had Smart Money and it was the era of Dog Wood and Fort Defiance. Then we also had Ipi Tombe and Victory Moon, amongst others. At Glen Kotzen I have worked with Princess Victoria and Big City Life – they were champions but none of them could hold a candle to Horse Chestnut. He was a machine. I love cars. To me he was a Ferrari in a world of Opels.”

Horse Chestnut was one of the first Fort Wood progeny to hit the track and Frikkie remembers his debut well:

“Everybody was talking. There was pressure. He started 4 to 10, I think. Johnny Geroudis rode him and he won well over the 1000m. We knew he was good. But that was still a relief.”

The attention and buzz attracted by the high profile racer meant that extraordinary security arrangements had to be implemented in the Met build-up.

“We had armed security guards and I slept at the yard. I believe they caught some guys believed to be trying to get to him. Before the Dingaans and the Classic, we had closed circuit tv at Randjesfontein and we never took our eyes off him. There was always a buzz around him.”

1999 J&B Met

Horse Chestnut wins the 1999 J&B Met

Frikkie travelled to Chicago with Horse Chestnut where he won the Broward.

“That was an experience and one of the highlights of my time with the champion. Mike Smith won the Broward on him but in the build-up the locals used to come to track work and time his astonishing gallops. They kept thinking there was some fault with their stop-watches!”

Frikkie left Mike De Kock in 2004 and worked for Charles Laird for 6 months before going into a partnership with Dean Maroun.

“We had great success in Dubai. Victory Moon, Ned Kelly and National Icon all did well and we were placed on World Cup night. It was a great rush and really fantastic racing.”

The partnership split up in 2007 when Frikkie joined Glen Kotzen to run his KZN satellite yard.

Some other quotes:

Weichong Marwing (jockey): “Horse Chestnut was the type of horse that would have won on any track, anywhere in the world.”

Abraham Motha (groom): “I loved him and I saw him grow into a top horse in front of my eyes.”

Joey Ramsden (trainer): “He was in a different league altogether.”

 

 

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