I chose to personally write this article because of the attachment we have developed with this horse at Summerhill. We think he’s as important a sire prospect as we’ve been associated with.
I was born into a horseracing family, and ever since I can remember, my roots have been drenched in the game. We grew up in one of the remotest parts of South Africa, and while it was an idyllic existence, one of its biggest drawbacks was that it took the Post Office a fortnight to deliver the Duff’s Turf Guide.
My grandfather owned the 1946 Durban July hero, St Pauls, yet neither he nor my father ever dreamt of owning a runner in an English Group One. I have to admit, it never entered my head that it might happen to me either. But then, there’ve been many things we never believed possible at Summerhill.
Who would’ve thought, for example, that the Ruling family of Dubai, the world’s largest owners of racehorses, might one day choose to keep such a fine collection of stallions and mares on our farm, of all the farms in the world, ten kilometres outside the dustiest little “dorp” in Zululand?
Besides having a horse good enough to run in England’s Champion Stakes, imagine the thrill when that same horse took Summerhill and an old varsity mate, to the ringside of the Dubai World Cup meeting with a “live” chance.
Such a horse is MULLINS BAY, whose association with us started five years ago. I was at the Tattersalls Houghton sale in England with Sheikh Hamdan’s Racing Manager, Angus Gold. We arrived at the Meon Valley Stud yard to find the Coolmore brains trust looking at a big, athletic colt. Their inspection took unusually long, and it was strange, because it wasn’t their “style” to buy a son of MACHIAVELLIAN, a Maktoum stallion.
It didn’t take much to realise why. Here was a horse with a prince’s pedigree, the looks of a demi-god and the movement of a panther. He wound up one of Europe’s most expensive yearlings and Coolmore got their man, outgunning Sheikh Mohammed.
MULLINS BAY ’s racecourse debut was delayed several times on account of a recurring injury, but from the time of his first imperious triumph, we knew he was as talented as his pedigree said he should be.
By the time we “got” him, he was already a multiple Stakes and Group winner, and Timeform’s Black book had acknowledged his talents with a 121 rating. That’s four pounds superior to FORT WOOD, and a tad better than FOVEROS, and placed him in the top 1% of racehorses worldwide.
No doubt, you’ll tell me there’s a lot of sentiment riding on the back of this horse for the Summerhill team. You’re right, and that’s why I’ve written this tribute personally. So in order to get some objectivity into the discussion, let’s rather let Mike de Kock do the talking.
He’ll tell you he inherited a “cripple”, that the horse never quite got over the chips he carried in his fetlock, and he was continuously bothered by a “suspensory”. Yet he’ll also tell you he’s as talented a horse as he’s had in his hands, that whenever he worked with ORACLE WEST, he “towed” him. And we all know how close ORACLE WEST came to winning the Dubai Sheema Classic (Gr1).
Because he was restricted to training him in the pool and on the treadmill, for most of the time he was limited to running him at distances short of his best. Yet MULLINS BAY produced two sparkling performances at a mile against the World Champion RAMONTI, and on World Cup night in the Godolphin Mile.
The only way I’ll be able to share the privilege of an association with a horse like MULLINS BAY, is to invite you personally to Summerhill. Better still, if you can make it to our Stallion Day on the first Sunday in July, we’ll show you both MULLINS BAY and STRONGHOLD. We don’t believe we’ve had two smarter horses in our lives.
Posted by Mick Goss