Summerhill Stallion Day 2008

We’re scarcely out of the mire of the National Sales, and the Summerhill team are beavering away at the next round of responsibilities. On the agri front, this is “clean up” time, with road repairs, tree planting, dam building etc, going ahead at a furious pace under the tutelage of Barry Watson.

Tarryn Liebenberg, Michael Booysen, Kerry Jack, Annet Becker and Mick Goss have been seen scouring the paddocks as part of the selection process for the Ready To Run Sale in November, and the end of April sees our mating panel revisiting each mare physically, then sitting down in early May to consider their proposals for the forthcoming season, which gets underway on the 1st September.

That’s not all though, as the business of vetting every weanling on the farm kicked off last Saturday, with a view to next year’s sales and assisting in mating deliberations. You might think this is miles in advance, but there are so many things that flow from the process, including the sorting of these groups, and the influence they have on future stallion selection, etc. It’s a critical aspect of our business.

Most years we manage an “absentee” conference away from our premises, where we crunch out issues affecting the business. This time around, much of that work has been addressed in our divisional business plans and budgets, so this year the team will be gathering at home with a view to developing subject matter to meet the demands of the new Al Maktoum School Of Management Excellence (click here) and its curriculum. Lecture topics and lecturers will be identified in the process, and we’ll be running a Spring School for our clients in August, to bring them closer to the processes which take place at Summerhill in the breeding and raising of future champions. This way, our friends and customers will become more intimately acquainted with the subtleties, the detail and the nuances of the breeding game and their horses in particular, and while they’re about it, they’ll be enjoying the sumptuous comfort of Hartford House (click here) and Jackie Cameron’s Top Ten award-winning restaurant.

It’s also “brochure time” again (can you believe it?) so the boss and Filly Hayward of Xpressions Advertising and Design will be putting their heads together with a view to producing our annual brag sheet, due for release at the end of July. Of course, we have a few tricks up our sleeves in the form of new stallion prospects, but any announcements on that score right now are premature.

In the admin office, Linda Norval and her team are rushing around, pulling all the facets that go into our Stallion Day together. Remember, this takes place on the first Sunday of July (the day after the Vodacom Durban July) and last year we had no fewer than 14 nations in attendance. Besides their director delegates, the Japanese Racing Association sent but a full camera crew to film the proceedings; the board of directors of the Singapore Turf Club and the Korea Racing Association were here, the Hong Kong Breeders Club, headed by Peter and Nicole Yip were on board, and so were a number of Turkish breeders. The Stronachs of Champion American breeders, Adena Springs turned up, as did a large delegation of West Australia’s breeding community, who’ve graced the day five consecutive years.

From the continental, United States, Adena Springs were not alone though. We had several other American delegates, not the least of whom were Robert and Robin Muir, who were here to participate in the unveiling of their South African Derby winner, Ravishing.

Not to be outdone, one of racing’s most recognisable faces “Legs” Elaine Lawlor, director of Goffs in Ireland, was on hand with several of her compatriots. We also had the usual very welcome gathering of Brits with us, together with people from France and Ireland, and of course, as always, Dubai was well represented. Then our friends in Africa, from Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Kenya, were welcomed, together with several hundred of our own countrymen.

Summerhill Stallion Day, now famously known as the “best bash in racing”, demands some organisation, and there’s nobody better equipped to deal with this than Linda Norval, who was here the day the gates opened in 1979. While she took a sabbatical in between, she’s been back on the roster almost a decade and she’s as energetic as ever, and looking forward to Stallion Day to welcome you back to Summerhill.

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