Mick Goss
Like their predecessors, this year’s students are products of a new wave of thinking. They know there is a costly misconception hindering innovation.
— Mick Goss / Summerhill CEO

If you'd woken up at Summerhill this morning, you'd have understood why we live here. When our valleys are shrouded in mist at sunrise, you know you're in for a "whopper". The mercury was hovering at a touch over 10 degrees in our driveway at 6 am, and as I turned east into the Giant's Castle road, I was blinded by the play of the sun's rays through the vapour. These misty mornings are typical of the spring equinox, and they invariably signal the onset of the kind of days that set Africa apart from the rest of the world: where's there sunshine, and today is one of those days, there's always hope. At dinner last evening, on the eve of our graduation ceremony and in the company of the governors of our School of Management Excellence, the air was full of talk of the calibre of the fifth student intake and how they measure with their predecessors. They know they have huge boots to fill.

It's typical of the times we live in that even the good news of a stirring Springbok victory is vaporized by the glum, foreboding stuff we see every day on the news channels and in the papers about the state of the nation and the economy. Sometimes we need to remember to draw on the stories that made this country what it is, where we came from and where we're at. We all know we've been to hell and back, yet here we are without the internecine strife we lived through a few short decades ago, here we are without an ISIS ravaging our countryside, and while we have our financial headwinds, we're much better off than our West African neighbours and our BRICS compatriots, Brazil and Russia. And while we're about it, we should never forget that this country has produced more world class companies than any other of its size, and that a one-time scholar of Pretoria Boys High School was named Time magazine's Person Of The Year just twelve months ago. The environmental concern that is born into most of our countrymen, sees Elon Musk with his eco-friendly motor cars working to save the planet, while at the same time launching a spacecraft to leave it. True vision is binocular, and he is clearly a man who sees many things at once.

I know I recalled their names only yesterday, and I know on a day like this, you'll forgive me doing so again, if only to emphasize just how big those boots are. In three of the first four years, Thabani Nzimande, John Motaung and Ashlee Hammond all topped their respective classes at the English National Stud; and Hazel Kayiya, who enjoyed an extended scholarship stint under Andrew Harding's mentorship at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and has a seat at the boardroom table of Gold Circle for their monthly meetings these days, all spring to mind. Pencil in Thabiso Nako, barn foreman at Sean Tarry's; Vengi Masawi an assistant trainer to Mike de Kock; and Jason May, who heads up the training division at Drakenstein. We've said it so many times before, but we live in a neighbourhood replete in the skills of stockmanship like no other.

Like their predecessors, this year's students are products of a new wave of thinking. They know there is a costly misconception hindering innovation. Most business models, for instance, hold that strategic reasoning must precede emotional execution. That means don't try an idea before its worth is proven by knowledge and science, untainted by feeling. We're in the horse business, for heaven's sake, we're working with flesh and blood, where the heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.

Emotion's assign value in our game, not tests or analysis. That's not to say we should reject rationality, but we need to know our limitations in harnessing our creative spirits. We cannot expect innovation on the one hand, and kill it with the other. The truth is, the scientific world offers much fertile ground, but woefully few farmers.

Most of us have an old-world perception of what a "flesh-and-blood" success story should look like. Our people long ago joined the new world, where nothing short of a full day's work and a bit more will produce a horse worthy of that much abused word in modern day sport, "champion". They know that telling the truth about your horse demands a horse that's worth telling the truth about. No donkey chases the carrot forever.

They also know, because they know that nothing is beyond reach these days, when a scientist tells you that something is possible, he's probably underestimating how long it'll take. If he says it's impossible, he's probably wrong.

Hail the class of 2015! 

Childwick Trust Scholarship Eric Motlou & Nicole Wille
Best Practical Student (International Scholarship) Thabiso Magozi
Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarship Nopendulo Mnyandu
The Fellowship Award Eric Motlou
Distinctions Kuda Sibanda, Nicole Wille, Shelby Cox, Uzel Mouton