(Nicholas Goss)

It’s an old adage at Summerhill that if we were going to war, Muhtafal would be our General. He is, in simple terms, the most reliable producer of quality racehorses in South Africa given his opportunities, and there are only two factors that mitigate against him being right in the mix for the Sires’ Championship.

Not that he’s been too far off, mind you, as he’s made the top five sires for the last two years. The first mitigating factor is that his stock generally don’t run beyond a mile, and with the best endowed races in South Africa being contested over 2000m and beyond, he’s always going to be blown out by the sons and daughters of horses that can get that sort of trip on a regular basis. The other limiting factor is the early perceptions that followed him from the United States when he first arrived here, that he was low on fertility. Of course, that was true, as much as it is also known amongst his best supporters these days, that his fertility at this time is only just short of what we would consider good. Though he is still renowned for being fussy about his mates and taking a good deal of time to serve those he’s not mad about!

Statisticians will tell you though, that the son of Mr. Prospector (yes, he is Mr. Prospector’s most successful son to stand in the southern hemisphere) posts Stakes winners with the regularity of the best stallions in the land, and this last weekend was another illustration of his prowess. There were two Stakes races contested over the Vaal’s sand track at the weekend, the first of which, the Banyana Handicap over 1000m, was taken in great style by Nottgalashia (for Mark Dixon, one of Muhtafal’s greatest fans) while the other was a real triumph for Summerhill, with Alejate finally earning her big Black type in an epic duel up the straight with Kahal’s Summerhill-bred daughter, Cape Tango (for Kahal’s biggest supporter, Mike de Kock). This brings Muhtafal’s Stakes winning tally already, in the first month of the new season, to three following Battlestar Express’ “lightening-bolt” in the closing moments of the Umngeni Handicap (Listed) on Gold Cup day.

So Muhtafal is right in the thick of things in the Sires Premiership again, though he’s a little way short of stablemate, Kahal, who heads the log following Desert Links spectacular win in the Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1) on the first weekend of the month.

The Summerhill sires, to put it mildly, are riding high.