“MY body had gone numb and my eyes were watery, but my sense of hearing was sharp enough to detect race-caller Jehan Malherbe’s voice commanding the roaring crowd to ‘look towards the inside’ for the Oppenheimers’ black-and-yellow silks surging ahead to challenge for the lead”, is how Mike de Kock described the closing moments of the 1999 J&B Met in Horse Chestnut: The Story Of A Legend (MC Publishers: 2000).
See our 5min –video feature, courtesy of Andrew Bon/Drakenstein Stud, for a replay of Horse Chestnut’s mind-blowing win and the emotional moments thereafter…
Horse Chestnut, by Fort Wood from London Wall, was about to become the first three-year-old in 54 years to win the J&B Met and Mike told: “With 400m to go, the Met was all over as a contest. As if charged with dynamite, Horse Chestnut unleashed the blistering turn of foot when Weichong Marwing pressed the button. Within a split second he’d gone two, three lengths clear, and 300m from the line the only question was how far the pair would win.
“My Adam’s Apple had grown to twice its size, but I was not about to cry. Trying to breathe was a more important consideration. Diane was screaming with excitement. Hands slapped my back and tugged at my jacket. That slow-motion feeling returned, and Malherbe’s voice rang in the distance: “This is true greatness! Horse Chestnut is killing them in the J&B Met!”
Horse Chestnut won by 8,25 lengths from Classic Flag, Faralmond and Smart Money.
See www.drakensteinstudfarm.co.za for the latest news on Horse Chestnut at stud.
For video replay, refresh screen until you see the image below. Click play.
Horse Chestnut is certainly the greatest racehorse SA has ever produced.
Back in 2000 I watched every move of the horse and I was over-killed when I heard that he broke down during a workout in the US and was therefore out of the Dubai World Cup.
I sincerely believed at that time that he was the only horse that could have run down the great Dubai Millennium on dirt. Unfortunately we will never know.
You wont be alone in that assesment – if there was anything that could’ve taken Dubai Millenium on & beaten him, it was Horse Chestnut.
Man but I sobbed for days when he broke down, all those hopes & dreams going up in smoke… And then the Openheimers had to go & pour more salt into that wound, dumping South Africa’s racing darling & greatest pride & joy in a country that had no appreciation for him & his accomplishments.
Ah well, I’m just glad he’s finally home where he belongs, at long last. My only hope is that once, at least just that once, he’ll manage to reproduce himself – I so do miss that euphoria & sheer awe & wonder that horse could evoke…