The Tallest Trees…

History-making SA Horse Of The Year

There can be no doubt that the late Horse Chestnut was one of the greatest thoroughbreds ever produced in South Africa.

Horse Chestnut wins the 1998 Dingaans

Horse Chestnut – the first Triple Crown hero

South Africa’s Horse Of The Year in 1998, Horse Chestnut (Fort Wood) made history when spreadeagling a top-class field  in the 1999 J&B Met. The Mauritzfontein champion also raced to a facile win in the Triple Crown, landing the Cape Guineas by 7.15 lengths, the SA Classic by 3.8 lengths and the SA Derby by nearly ten lengths.

Sent to North America,  he won his only overseas outing when romping to a five and a half length win in the Gr3 Broward Handicap. He was retired to stud after getting injured, with a record of nine wins from ten outings, and a reputation as one of South Africa’s finest.

Horse Chestnut, who returned to South Africa after spending eight seasons in Kentucky at the famed Claiborne Farm, left his mark at stud overseas with such graded winners as Lucifer’s Stone, Askbut I Won’ttell, Spanish Chestnut, and Duveen.

Horse Chestnut daughter Chestnuts N Pearls wins the Gr1 Golden Slipper

He also enjoyed success in South Africa at the highest level where daughter Chestnuts N Pearls landed the Gr1 Golden Slipper in 2015.

However, it is as a broodmare sire that Horse Chestnut has truly left his mark as a sire – not surprisingly perhaps, as the champion is a son of multiple champion broodmare sire, Fort Wood, and did cover some top class mares during his stud career.

He was in the news again this past week, with a pair of daughters represented by stakes winners, in the form of Johnny Bear (Halton Stakes) and Orbolution. The latter, a first stakes winner for Kentucky Derby winner Orb (Malibu Moon), is a very exciting prospect, with 2yo Orbolution landing the P G Johnson Stakes by nearly five lengths. The filly, who has now won two of four outings, is out of Horse Chestnut’s G3 placed daughter My Rachel.

Smart Call – good name, great horse

Equus Champion, Smart Call (Ideal World), now competing at the highest level overseas, won or was placed in 13 of 16 local outings, with her three South African Gr1 wins including the 2016 J&B Met. The beautifully bred Smart Call, whose dam is a half-sister to Greys Inn, is out of the Horse Chestnut mare Good Judgement.

With a plethora of above average daughters yet to be represented as broodmares in South Africa, it appears unlikely that Smart Call will be the only local Gr1 winner produced by a Horse Chestnut mare. Horse Chestnut’s success as a broodmare sire, to date, however, has come largely overseas. This year alone, Horse Chestnut daughters have been represented by five international stakes winners, headed by such graded stakes winners as Fault (Gr3 Pucker Up Stakes) and Canadian star, Dragon Bay (by Parading). The latter, whose wins this year include the Gr2 Nijinsky II Stakes and Gr2 Eclipse Stakes, has won five times to date. Dragon Bay, the only graded winner by his sire to date, is out of the Horse Chestnut mare, Cologne, a dual winner who was second in the North Broad Stakes.

Horse Chestnut (Fort Wood-London Wall)

The Claiborne bred Fault (Blame) is out of the smart Horse Chestnut mare, Charming N Lovable, whose wins included the Flawlessly Stakes. Charming N Lovable is also dam of Gr3 Iowa Derby runner up, Betweenhereandcool (Unbridled’s Song) and the stakes placed, Congenial (Pulpit). Another recent high-class US galloper out of a Horse Chestnut mare is the very useful Zipessa (City Zip), winner of nearly $500 000 and runner up in last year’s Gr1 Rodeo Drive Stakes. Horse Chestnut’s stakes winning daughter, In Return, has also kept her sire’s name in lights –she is the dam of top class Canadian 3yo, Channel Maker (English Channel), winner of the classic Breeders’s Stakes in 2017 as well as recent stakes winner, Johnny Bear (English Channel), who has banked over $300 000 in stakes.

His daughter, Lynwood Chase – who is from the same family as current US star, Drefong (Gio Ponti) –  has also made her mark. She has produced Gr1 Canadian International winner, Cannock Chase (now standing at Nunstainton Stud) and Gr2 Prix Eugene Adam hero, Pisco Sour, with both horses sired by Lemon Drop Kid.

Unraced Horse Chestnut mare, Suffrage, also produced a high-class performer in the form of Suggestive Boy (Easing Along), a multiple Gr1 winner in Argentina and winner of the Gr1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile in North America and Gr2 Arcadia Stakes. Suggestive Boy’s own sister, Subtlety, was a Gr3 winner in Argentina.

Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut – a looker!

Other graded winners out of mares by the former South African superstar include Ol’Fashion Gal, winner of the Gr3 Jimmy Durante Stakes at two and Gr3 Selene Stakes at three. The champion is also broodmare sire of a Bernardini colt, who fetched $1.45 million at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale. The colt is out of the regally bred Horse Chestnut mare, Winner, who herself made $700 000 at the 2014 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Horse Chestnut is not the first locally bred champion to make his mark as a broodmare sire internationally. Former champion, Hawaii (Utrillo), is broodmare sire of, among others, US G1 winner, Engine One (Vosburgh Stakes), and hugely successful sire, Hennessy (grandsire of Scat Daddy), while South African Horse Of The Year, Wolf Power (Flirting Around), is maternal grandsire of dual US Horse Of The Year and 11 time Gr1 winner, Wise Dan (Wiseman’s Ferry (by Hennessy)).


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