Summerhill Zulu Dance Troupe
Summerhill Zulu Dance Troupe

Summerhill Zulu Dance Troupe perform at the Investec Stallion Day

(Photo : Leigh Willson)


by Anne Wilson

Thoroughbred Daily News, 9 July 2012

It has been nicknamed “racing’s greatest day out” by the media, and despite the weather threatening to put a serious dent on the day’s proceedings, the annual Investec Stallion Day went off smoothly and without any hitches.

The day was held again this year at the Al Maktoum School of Excellence, the only facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The Summerhill Stallion Day has become something of a “must attend event,” with people from over 20 nations in attendance, coming from far and wide to listen to and witness why Summerhill Stud has been South Africa’s champion breeders for seven consecutive years.

This year witnessed the introduction of two new boys on the block to the stallion ranks; Traffic Guard, the 123 Timeform-rated son of More Than Ready and Golden Sword (GB), the G3 Chester Vase winner and son of the influential High Chaparral (Ire). CEO and owner, Mick Goss regaled the assembled crowd with stories of the various stallions as they were led past by their handlers, and it is clear to see that he is a great marketer and raconteur.

The assembled crowd was then treated to a spellbinding dancing performance by the resident Summerhill Zulu Dance Troupe, who entertained with their enthralling and energetic routines. A three-course catered lunch followed inside a Bedouin style-tent attached to the school. This year, for the first time, the lunch was catered by well-known Hartford House celebrity chef Jackie Cameron. Jackie and her team have led Hartford House to some impressive culinary accolades over the years, winning the 2010 Visa/House & Leisure best restaurant in KZN, as well as Eat Out top restaurant in South Africafor two years running in 2010 and 2011.

The Land of Legends, a collection of the top hotels and resorts around KwaZulu-Natal then presented the Ingwazi Awards to two people who have given exceptional service, not only to the tourism industry in KZN, but to the country as a whole. Past winners include: KZN Premier Dr. Zweli Mkhize, and the legendary conservationist Dr. Ian Player. This year the awards were posthumous: Francois Anthony, widow of the famed ‘elephant whisperer’ Lawrence Anthony, accepted the first award on behalf of her late husband for his work in elephant conservation. The second award was accepted on behalf of the Rattray Family and its iconic head, David Rattray, by famed storyteller and motivational speaker Rob Caskie. David was known for his work not only as a tour guide of the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, but for his lectures at the Royal Geographic Society in London, which attracted huge crowds. Rob was his protege and is a worthy successor to the title and mantle of storyteller.

The pace and excitement of the afternoon was kept up with an auction of stallion services and a massive bottle of L’Ormarins wine, autographed by Gaynor Rupert. Bidding was enthusiastic and steady throughout the sale, led by well-known racing commentator Graeme Hawkins. All monies raised in the stallion auction go to projects for the disadvantaged, and that knowledge certainly helped the bidding and the prices.

The day finished off with music by the well-known local musicians, Afritude, who certainly managed to get the crowds dancing along to their tunes.

The Investec Stallion Day is an event which is worthy of its billing as racing’s greatest day out, and the whole team is to be congratulated for its organisation and staging of a magnificent day.