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Dubai Racing


dubai financial woes explode traffic
dubai financial woes explode traffic


The Summerhill website, and especially our blog, is one of the most visited in thoroughbred breeding. While the provision of material is largely the responsibility of the people who live and work here, none of the sites appeal would’ve been possible without the creative genius of Michael Nefdt, who’s away on a fortnight’s break at the moment. That hasn’t stopped the intrigue which makes for the traffic we see every day on the site.

Amazingly, when Dubai’s financial woes hit the international press on Friday, the flow of traffic to our site exploded, no doubt driven by the knowledge of our twenty year association with the Ruling family of that domain. More than 500 enquiries emanated from the United States alone, while 82 visited from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately for our readers, and principally because of the public holidays in the financial markets of the United States and the celebration of the holy festival of Eid in the Middle East, there was little we could do to respond to their curiosities, until Monday. Nonetheless, we were more than flattered that people should’ve felt what we had to say on the subject was worth reading, and we hope we didn’t disappoint them in the posting we eventually registered on Monday.

united states blog traffic link
united states blog traffic link
dubai and abu dhabi blog traffic link
dubai and abu dhabi blog traffic link


meydan racecourse in dubai
meydan racecourse in dubai

Meydan Racecourse in Dubai

(Photo :


You can imagine that with Summerhill’s connection with the Ruling Family in Dubai going back twenty years this coming February, our phone lines have been burning with inquisitive pressmen wanting to know the state of the nation. While most of it has already been displayed in technicolor across the television screens of the world, we have a different perspective. Ours is to do with horses, and a recollection of a contribution from the late Sheikh Maktoum’sGainsborough Stud and the present Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud which, to the degree that they raised the bar in the quality of horses they were sending to South Africa, changed the face of breeding in this country irretrievably.

While it’s not the Arab way to speak out about these things, (which means there’ll be any amount of conjecture), our confident guess is that the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular, will not let Dubai stand alone. That being the case, while it won’t quite be business as usual, we fully expect the Maktoum family’s influence over affairs in the Middle East especially, and across the world as well, to continue, albeit in a more subtle fashion for the time being.

Of course, the doomsayers will claim that Dubai’s dilemma will trigger a second wave of extreme recession, and given the austerity that will flow from the departure of expatriates from the Emirate and the envitable lay-offs that must follow, things will never be quite the same again. You’d be underestimating Sheikh Mohammed if you thought that, and we believe you’d be underestimating the resolve of the UAE as well, to stand together.

Nonetheless, from a horseman’s perspective, it’s the last thing you’d want, notwithstanding the envy their worldwide dominance attracts. We doubt that even their strongest competitors, Coolmore, would see it in anybody’s interests that the Maktoum equine empire should suffer, because that would have implications for the balance sheets of every single player in the game. The Maktoums have not only been central to the creation of records in thoroughbred value, in international auction markets and in the promotion of racing itself, they employ many thousands of horsemen and other personnel in their stud farms, their auction companies, their publishing businesses and their racing yards, across the length and breadth of the world. It would be catastrophic for the industry if this were to come to an end, or for that matter, suffer any measurable diminution.

The Maktoum family’s intervention in racing some thirty five years has altered the course of our sport unrecognisably, and we’re the better for it. We all need to be hoping that things will settle, as the financial press are beginning to suggest, and that the Dubai World Cup for record prize money next March, will take its place at the new Meydan facility as scheduled.

If events at the Tattersall’s Foal sale of the last week are anything to go by, John Ferguson, acting for Sheikh Mohammed, was the biggest buyer yet again in a surprisingly buoyant market, which suggests that at the very least, the Maktoum family’s personal finances appear to be in good order. That said, buyers in general at the sale were as intrepid as ever, best described by Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager, Angus Gold, as “extraordinary trade in an extraordinary business”.

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MEDAGLIA D’ORO : A windfall for Sheikh Mohammed

Medaglia D’Oro
(Photo : Thoroughbred Times)

There’s been plenty of news of late of new property acquisitions by Dubai’s Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and then on Friday we were greeted by the announcement that he had purchased the “hottest” young stallion in the United States, Medaglia D’Oro. Those that attended the 2007 version of the Dubai World Cup will recall Medaglia D’Oro’s stirring battle in the closing stages of the world’s richest race when he succumbed, only just, to the persistent urgings of Pleasantly Perfect, and we can attest, following a recent visit there, to the fact that Medaglia D’Oro has let down into one of the most spectacular specimens of a young stallion imaginable.

Besides having spawned the highest rated filly (of any age) in the world right now in the form of Rachel Alexandra, (20 ¼ winner of the Kentucky Oaks (Gr.1) just over a month ago, and vanquisher of the colts in the second leg of the American Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes (Gr.1), Medaglia D’Oro rewarded Sheikh Mohammed’s boldness within a day, with yet another Grade One winner from his first crop in the shape of Gabby’s Golden Gal, who walked off with the laurels in the Acorn Stakes (Gr.1) at the Belmont meeting in New York.

Medaglia D’ Oro’s sire, El Prado, is something of an aberration as a stallion. A son of the thirteen time European Champion, Sadler’s Wells, he raced exclusively in Ireland on turf, and was a Grade One winner of the National Stakes as a two-year-old before his acquisition by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs (champion breeders of America and clients of Summerhill) where he was asked to embark on a career as a proven grass horse in a “dirty”country. El Prado warmed to his new career with relish, twice topping the American sires log, and it now looks as if he might make a third career for himself as a sire of sires. Everything about him suggested that success on the dirt tracks of the United States was an unlikely outcome to his career, yet it goes to show, there is little we can do to predict the future of stallions, besides educated guessing.

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Kiaran McLaughlin scoops Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil

kiaran mclaughlan (michael nefdt)

Kiaran McLaughlan
(Photos : DRC/Nafips)


Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil are likely heading for the tracks of the US where they will join the stable of Kiaran McLaughlin.


Reigning champion trainer of South Africa, Mike de Kock, saddled both of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s runners to victories in the UAE Derby, with the former taking the event in 2007 and the latter winning a year ago.

Asiatic Boy is coming off a disappointing result in the Dubai World Cup (Gr1), where he finished back in 12th, from the field of 14.

“We will assess options for Asiatic Boy when we see how he has come out of Saturday, as he had a hard race,” Mike de Kock told The Racing Post from Dubai, adding that Asiatic Boy returned from the race coughing. “However, it is quite likely he (Asiatic Boy) and Honour Devil will go to Kiaran McLaughlin for the New York summer season. Asiatic Boy will probably then retire to Argentina and Honour Devil come back, hopefully for a World Cup bid. Saturday was disappointing. Asiatic Boy had won well on Super Thursday, but a slow start and traffic problems in the World Cup soon had him in trouble. He is obviously far better than that and came back coughing and just was not able to show how good he is, which is a shame. But that’s racing, and he will have another big day, I am sure, in America.”


“PARIS” almost PERFECT in Dubai

Paris Perfect (Muhtafal)
(Photo : Robin Bruss/Summerhill)

For all the big race action back home, the performance of the weekend, at least from a Summerhill perspective, belonged to Muhtafal’s son, Paris Perfect, in the Dubai World Cup (Gr.1) proper. In stark contrast to earlier years, his 3rd to Well Armed in the richest race on earth was a powerful tribute to his sire as well as his breeder, Gail Fabricius, not to mention the exertions of the Bruss brothers, Robin and Neil, who got him there for Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Astonishing isn’t it, that a little fellow who started out life on a farm 10kms outside the shabbiest little dorp in the Midlands, then earned his laurels in comparatively modest Port Elizabeth, should stand up when the heat of battle calls, and say “count on me”.

As we’ve so often said, “if we were going to war, Muhtafal would be our general”.


MUHTAFAL : The General Has Spoken


We’ve always said, if we were going to war, Muhtafal would be our man, and no statement could be more emphatic than his leadership, once again, of this season’s Stakes winners log.

As dependable a “getter” of Black type runners as any stallion in the nation, Muhtafal’s enduring occupation of the top echelons of our sires’ ranks, is a tribute to a horse who’s only just getting the opportunities he deserves.

Bottom line: Get in before they get out of reach.




Figures : Sporting Post 22 March 2009
* Made it at Summerhill

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009


Dubai World Cup (Gr1) 2009
2000m Dirt
28 March 2009
Nad Al Sheba, Dubai

Results :

1st: Well Armed (Tiznow)
2nd: Gloria De Campeao (Impression)
3rd: Paris Perfect (Muhtafal)

Time: 2:01.01

Countdown to Dubai World Cup Extravaganza

Art Of War
(Photo : ERA) 



Sheikh Mohammed’s great racing extravaganza goes to the wire on Saturday evening. The racing programmes of most countries have taken centuries to sculpt, yet the Maktoum Family have managed to put together our sport’s most spectacular showpiece in a matter of a decade. Whatever else the Dubai World Cup meeting may be, it’s the undisputed leader in prize money. Simply put, it is racing’s richest day.

South African-connected horses have developed an enviable record through the exploits mainly of Mike de Kock and his compatriot, Herman Brown Jnr, in the past six or seven seasons. In two of the past three years, Mike de Kock singlehandedly took home a third of the evening’s six prizes, and last year, between him and Herman Brown, they accounted for 50% (or three) of the night’s best entertainment. What that equated to in Rand earnings, we’re not sure, but it must’ve been close to R50 million, a number that would’ve had a number of the world’s top racing countries sneezing.

Whichever way you look at it, what it did signal was the arrival, once and for all, of South Africa’s horses and South Africa’s horsemen on the world racing stage, and we have the exploits of these fellows to thank for the fact that our stock, about to go to the Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales, are now firmly in the sights of anyone looking for a good horse at a fair price. South African horses have no peers when it comes to value, simple as that.

Back to Saturday evening’s events, it’s unfortunate Imbongi won’t be lining up for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, so he’ll be going to Hong Kong for the Group One mile a fresh horse, if that’s any consolation.

However, there’ll still be two graduates of the farm in action at a meeting which commences at 5pm, the first of which is Art Of War, who’ll be doing battle for the country in the $2 million Godolphin Mile. He’s been one of the revelations of the Dubai Carnival, and we’re looking for a bold showing from this nuggety little son of the emerging giant among South African sires, Kahal.

Muhtafal is represented by Gail Fabricius’ Summerhill-bred and raised Paris Perfect, erstwhile Horse Of The Year in the Eastern Cape. It will come as no small boost to that regions racing to know that a horse that started out in Port Elizabeth, has made the cut for the richest race in the world from his new base in Saudi Arabia, from whence we’re hearing good things from his trainer, Neil Bruss, about his prospects. Let’s not forget, he takes on some of the best horses in the world at a distance which is arguably further than his optimum, but you can never get a good man down, especially when his father is Muhtafal.

Whatever the outcome, you can bet on a great show, and we’ll all be rooting like hell from the Summerhill office when the games get underway.

ASIATIC BOY... The Man-Eater

asiatic boy dubai world cup (michael nefdt)Asiatic Boy
(Photos : Mike de Kock Racing/DRC)

Mike de Kock is loaded for the Dubai World Cup”, writes Marcus Hersh for America’s Turf Authority, Daily Racing Form :

“They came whizzing past the Nad Al Sheba grandstand about 6:30 Tuesday morning like this was a Los Angeles freeway. No sooner had trainer Mike de Kock turned his binoculars away from one pair of work horses than the glasses were trained on another pair breaking off down the backstretch. In all, eight Mike de Kock horses breezed in quick succession, and barring misfortune, all will run on the Dubai World Cup program here Saturday night. The filly Front House, one of the favorites in the $5 million Sheema Classic, exercised on a treadmill rather than the racetrack Tuesday. And Mike de Kock’s 10th World Cup Night horse, Asiatic Boy, was still back at the training yard.

An hour after those eight worked, Asiatic Boy had his final drill for the $6 million Dubai World Cup, breezing who knows how far over the brand spanking new training track constructed to accompany the new Meydan racetrack that opens next winter. Reaching out eagerly over the pristine Tapeta synthetic surface, Asiatic Boy did nothing to dispel the notion that this is his year. Two winters ago, he looked like a future World Cup winner, romping by almost 10 lengths in the UAE Derby. Last year, he ran into a little problem finishing second in the World Cup – a horse named Curlin. But Asiatic Boy’s preparations for the big race have gone more smoothly this time, a year when there is no standout like Curlin. Asiatic Boy’s owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of Dubai, can now only hope for a decent draw and racing luck.

“It’s his dream to win this race,” Mike de Kock said.

Sheikh Mohammed’s dream, and maybe Mike de Kock’s destiny. The South African master horseman has settled into a position as Dubai’s most prominent trainer not named Saeed bin Suroor. On last year’s World Cup card he won two races - the UAE Derby with Honour Devil and the Sheema Classic with Sun Classique - and finished second in two others. While maintaining a strong presence in South Africa (he has three entries in the second leg of the South African Triple Crown on Saturday), Mike de Kock gears his winter around the Dubai Winter Carnival and to an even greater extent the World Cup program itself. And his horses have a way of showing their best when it counts.

If that happens, Mike de Kock could win three Saturday night. Arlington Million runner-up Archipenko, who had an easy turf work Tuesday in company with Lucky Find, was a troubled second in the 2008 Dubai Duty Free and is one of the top horses in this year’s race. Mike de Kock also pre-entered two other capable horses in the Dubai Duty Free, Russian Sage and Bankable. And even with his top 12-furlong horse Eagle Mountain injured and out of the Sheema Classic, he has Front House, King of Rome, and Macarthur for that race.

Argentine-bred Asiatic Boy will be Mike de Kock’s lone World Cup starter, with World Cup hopes for Honour Devil abandoned this week. But one might be enough. Asiatic Boy was purchased out of South America in summer 2006 and has made 9 of his 11 starts since at Nad Al Sheba. In summer 2007, he was taken to England for a turf campaign, finishing fourth and fifth in a pair of Group 1’s; Asiatic Boy was there last summer, too, but never raced.

“In England, he was never himself,” Mike de Kock said. “He had all kinds of little respiratory infections and things.”

And European turf racing also cut down Asiatic Boy’s form.

“He wants it firm and fast,” Mike de Kock said. “He wants to stay on top of the ground.”

But a one-surface pony Asiatic Boy is not, and he handles synthetic tracks at least as well as dirt. The horse’s affinity for both surfaces, and his discomfort on Euro-style turf, has led his connections to contemplate a U.S. invasion later this year.

Mike de Kock said the horse “flew over the ground” training on all-weather surfaces in England, and his all-weather work Tuesday drew high praise from Mike de Kock. The old dirt training track here, which Mike de Kock used regularly, closed this winter, and the new training track opened only three days ago. Set on high ground about a half-mile southwest of Nad Al Sheba, the nine-furlong track is mainly still a construction zone. A turf oval inside the Tapeta track has yet to be installed, the viewing building situated in the middle of the stretch is a work in progress, and there are no furlong poles up yet. Mike de Kock not only did not know how fast Asiatic Boy had worked, he did not know exactly how far.

But time meant little to Mike de Kock compared to the way Asiatic Boy stretched out over the surface. Tuesday marked Asiatic Boy’s second day on the Tapeta track, and spending the week of the World Cup on the synthetic surface could boost his chances Saturday. Training every day on dirt, Asiatic Boy has recently seemed unhappy and vaguely flat to his handlers.

“He tried to get me today,” Mike de Kock happily exclaimed, back at his office an hour later. “It was like the old Asiatic Boy. He’s a man-eater. I’ve been going out of my head, really, the last couple weeks, going back over my training books to see what we were doing before.”

While Mike de Kock has had as much success as anyone on the Nad Al Sheba dirt, he does not care for the surface.

“The dirt track here is not good for horses,” he said. The kickback in behind the pace can be intense, and trailing runners are at a major disadvantage. “You train for speed and stamina. Half the time, you’re training here just to make sure nothing’s going wrong.”

What can go wrong with Asiatic Boy are his hind feet. Mike de Kock said the horse is among the soundest he’s seen, but twice he has lost the inside part of a hind hoof. When he trains, he doesn’t wear shoes on his hind feet, which are shod only the day of the race.

And this much is likely: Asiatic Boy will have his running shoes on Saturday night.”


yeats and mick kinaneSolskjaer’s brother Yeats winning the Ascot Gold Cup with Mick Kinane aboard
(Photo : Alan Crowhurst)

The latest edition of the celebrated “bible” of European racing, Timeform’s Racehorses of 2008, has just landed on our desk, courtesy of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate. The founder of Timeform, the inimitable Phil Bull, was as articulate and as enthusiastic a scribe on the affairs of the turf as anyone could imagine, and its at times like this that we’re reminded of how well our industry is served in the intellectual sense. This is another spellbinding edition, yet it’s the commentary on Solskjaer’s brother, Yeats, that gripped us this morning including a reminiscence around his three consecutive Ascot Gold Cups, a feat achieved only once previously by Sargaro almost fifty years ago.

It’s the degree of research the authors of Timeform apply to their writings though, that make this book so worthwhile, and in Yeats’ instance, there are reflections on his remarkable sire, Sadler’s Wells. We quote:

Sadler’s Wells was happily still in good condition physically on his retirement, and he certainly owes Coolmore nothing. In fact, the most successful stud in Europe owes its phenomenal record over the last twenty years largely to Sadler’s Wells, since his achievements as a sire of top-class runners and his legacy as a sire of sires is remarkable. The earnings that have accrued to the stud have been similarly remarkable, Sadler’s Wells never falling lower than IR 75,000 guineas and much of the time standing at IR 200,000 guineas (or its euro equivalent), though, for much of his career, his fee was officially private. By some calculations, with adjustments for inflation, this puts the notional worth to Coolmore of Sadler’s Wells in the region of £400,000,000 (or R6 billion rand!).

Tony Morris wrote in the Racing Post. “In February 1990, after Sadler’s Wells had been represented by his first crop of three-year-olds, I ventured the suggestion that he might prove to be the best stallion ever to have stood in Ireland. It was an assessment that seriously underestimated his potential. Sadler’s Wells has been one of the very best stallions to have stood anywhere on the planet’. The judgement hits the nail on the head. As to the details, it’s a case of where to start. According to Weatherbys, up to the end of 2008, the progeny of Sadler’s Wells (who had 2,274 foals recorded on Weatherby’s database) have won three hundred and forty-nine pattern or graded races, including one hundred and twenty-seven Group 1 events.

Sadler’s Wells has been represented by seventy-two individual Group/Grade 1 winners, including twenty-five individual classic winners, a record six Breeders’ Cup winners and twenty-two Group 1-winning two-year-olds – the latter figure impressive for a sire whose progeny generally are ideally suited by middle distances.

He has been Champion Sire in Britain and Ireland a record fourteen times, thirteen of those in succession from 1992 to 2004, and also won the title in France in 1993 and 1999. He has been champion sire of broodmares for the last four years too.

Comparisons with stallions who operated a century or more ago are hardly fair, given the way the world of bloodstock has changed, but the previous record holder for the number of stallion titles was Highflyer, foaled in 1774 (none of the other sires with seven titles or more was foaled after 1881). Perhaps the best modern-day comparison is with US-based Storm Cat, whose retirement was announced not long after Sadler’s Wells, and for the same reason. Storm Cat is twenty-five, so he has not had quite so many runners, but he has sired around one hundred fewer pattern or graded winners than Sadler’s Wells, and fewer than half the number of Group/Grade 1 winners. Quite right Storm Cat is regarded as an outstanding sire, which puts Sadler’s Wells achievements into perspective”.


sheikh mohammed bin khalifa al maktoumHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Matoum
(Photo : Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)

It’s a strange marvel of human behaviour that racing induces such incredible emotions in us. When all is said and done, true racing people are made of the same stuff, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah Al Maktoum is no different. Speaking to his right-hand man, Mohammed Khaleel, in the wake of Thursday evening’s events in Dubai, he spoke of the Sheikh’s ecstasy at Asiatic Boy’s grand run, but he was no less complimentary about the efforts of Art Of War and Imbongi.

You’d think their thoughts were riveted solely on racing’s big night at the end of March, yet it’s a measure of Sheikh Mohammed and his team that, at times like this, they have the grace to think of the origins of these horses. Sheikh Mohammed was quick to recall that all of Imbongi and Art of War, Galant Gagnant and Umngazi were graduates of the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale, and he wished us long life with the sale henceforward. In his view, this is a prime source of top thoroughbreds, and he was quick to add the hope that this year’s crop would be comparable with the class of 2007. No doubt, music to the ears of Bob Yearham and his merry team at Emperors Palace.

It seems Imbongi is not the only one who might’ve booked his ticket for World Cup night. It’s possible little Art Of War gets his moment in the sunshine (or should we say the moonshine, too) in the Dubai World Cup itself.

No doubt, the likes of Barry Clements, Rodney Thorpe and Roger Zeeman had little inkling that the matings of their respective mares to Russian Revival and Kahal that year, would yield results which would one day have their names in lights at the richest racing spectacle on earth.


imbongi and kevin sheaImbongi

Last night brought down the curtain on the last of the big trials for racing’s richest meeting, the Dubai World Cup. There were many South African-connected steeds on display, and Mike de Kock will count it as a good day at the office.

From a Summerhill perspective, we had to be happy with the proceedings, though Imbongi must’ve been among the unlucky ones on the night. In what looked to be the “deep end” for Art Of War, in a race in which the famous likes of Dubai Millennium, Street Cry, and Electrocutionist have honed their claws for the big day, this little chap was asked to do it the hard way, out in front, while his illustrious stable companion, Asiatic Boy, bided his time three wide, out of the kick-back. Let’s not forget, Asiatic Boy was second in the World Cup itself a year ago to no less a horse than the world champion, Curlin, so having your name mentioned on the same card was something in itself of an honour for this unusually small son of Kahal. Yet he gutsed it out from the start, led through the bend, and kicked on courageously in the strait, hanging on grimly for third in the dying stages, while Asiatic Boy will be spot on for another crack at $6 million loot at the end of March.

Imbongi was in a tough one here, including grand Japanese filly, Vodka, who’s just been voted Horse Of The Year in her homeland. Also in the field were last year’s Duty Free hero, Jay Peg, (subsequent winner of the Singapore Airlines Cup Gr.1 as well); the Cape Derby and Daily News 2000 ace, Russian Sage, Summer Cup winner, Strategic News, and any number of international Group One and Two competitors.

The big worry for those of us who know Imbongi, was whether or not he would see out the 1770 m of the race, as this was relatively new territory for him, so it was to his great credit that in the last 150 metres of the race, there was nothing travelling better than he was. Pocketed in (like Vodka was), Imbongi saw daylight for the first time when the race was all but over, but once Kevin Shea had extracted him, he flew to get up for the minor money, while another stride or two might’ve put him in second.

Mike de Kock was more than frustrated after the event, proclaiming to Mick Goss that he thought the horse should’ve won with something to spare, if he’d got a run. It’s all the better news that he came out of the race well, and according to Mike, he’s hopeful he’ll qualify for a crack at the $5 million Dubai Duty Free over the course and distance, on the big night.



Jebel Hatta (Gr2)
1777m Turf
5 March 2009
Nad Al Sheba Racecourse
Dubai Racing Carnival
US$ 250,000

Results :
1st Balius (IRE)
Time : 1:48:84

Trainer : Herman Brown
Jockey : Weichong Marwing

Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Johnny Murtagh

Russian Revival ex Garden Verse
Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Kevin Shea
Breeder : Summerhill Stud

ASIATIC BOY - Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3

Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3
2000m Dirt
5 March 2009
Nad Al Sheba Racecourse
Dubai Racing Carnival
US$ 300,000

Results :
Owner : Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum
Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Johnny Murtagh
Time : 2:03:03

2nd Happy Boy

3rd ART OF WAR (SAF) Kahal - Cariad by Northern Guest
Owners : Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Mike de Kock
Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Johnny Murtagh
Breeder : Summerhill Stud



watching super thursday on tv“Go Boys!”

megan romeynMegan RomeynThe boss is back from his Australian travels today, just in time to witness the performances of two Summerhill-breds at Nad Al Sheba tonight.

Summerhill Ready To Run graduate, Art Of War, lines up for the feature race of the evening, the $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.2) third round over 2000m on dirt. This race is seen as a stepping stone for the $6million Dubai World Cup which is run over the same 10 furlong distance. Mike de Kock is cautiously optimistic about the son of Kahal who ran an impressive second in last Thursday’s Meydan Hotel Trophy over 1800m, behind the classy Gloria de Campeao. Art Of War has had a super Carnival and although well drawn (1) is perhaps an optimistic entry for us here, although he continues in good form at home,” said Mike de Kock. Art Of War will face some stiff competition in the form of 2008 Dubai World Cup runner-up, Asiatic Boy, who missed out behind Curlin in last year’s race, although Asiatic Boy does have a tough draw (15) to overcome.

The second Summerhill contender on Super Thursday is 2008 KZN Horse Of The Year, Imbongi, who lines up in the 1777m Jebel Hatta (Gr.2) on turf, a Dubai Duty Free trial. Imbongi will face a barrage of tough competition in the form of Russian Sage, Biarritz, Strategic News, Jay Peg and Japanese hope Vodka. According to Mike de Kock, Imbongi is better over a shorter distance, but is a horse that is in peak physical condition. Herman Brown Jnr, trainer of 2008 Dubai Duty Free victor, Jay Peg, says that his charge is coming along well and that he is confident of a solid performance.

Honour Devil, winner of the 2008 UAE Derby, will get his chance again tonight when he faces a host of Group winners in the $200,000 Burj Nahaar (Gr.3) over 1600m on dirt. Honour Devil steps up against the likes of Jalil, Summer Doldrums and Racecar Rhapsody in this prep race for the 1600m Godolphin Mile (Gr.2). Mike de Kock says, Honour Devil is well drawn (1) and ran as we expected first time, as he would have badly needed that run (when third in a conditions race).”

Although he wouldn’t be drawn into predictions, Mike de Kock is cautiously optimistic about the chances of Diana’s Choice and Hunting Tower who both line up in the Mahab Al Shimaal, a 1200m sprint on dirt that features Breeders’ Cup runner-up, Diabolical.

With so many South African runners and so many thrilling races on the Super Thursday card tonight, you can just imagine where the entire Summerhill team will be – cemented in front of the TV!

Archipenko, JJ The Jet Plane and Art Of War

mike de kock dubaiMike de Kock
(John Lewis/Dubai City)

Well, what a night of racing in the Dubai desert for Team Mike de Kock, as well as for South African horseracing.

With runners in only three races in Thursday night’s Dubai Racing Carnival spectacle, Mike de Kock and team made each race count!

A stellar run for second by Art Of War in the Meydan Hotel Trophy over 1800m on dirt was arguably the best UAE performance to date for this fighting son of Summerhill stallion Kahal. Art of War, a graduate of the Summerhill Ready To Run, courageously chased the seasoned campaigner, Gloria De Campeao, all the way to the line under jockey Johnny Murtagh.

JJ The Jet Plane, South African Champion Sprinter, exploded out the gates in the Al Quoz Sprint over 1200m on turf. Kevin Shea settled him just off the pace before igniting the afterburners from two furlongs out to win convincingly from Hatta Fort.

Then it was the turn of Archipenko, a son of Kingmambo, to test his class in the Zabeel Mile over 1600m on Turf, his first run since August 2008. Kevin Shea settled Archipenko two wide in second before upping the pace with 400m to go, driving across the line unthreatened.

Congratulation to Mike de Kock and team as well as to all the successful connections… class does tell.

ARCHIPENKO : Zabeel Mile 2009

Zabeel Mile sponsored by Meydan Racecourse
1600m Turf
26 February 2009
Nad Al Sheba Racecourse
Dubai Racing Carnival
US$ 200,000

Results :
1st Archipenko
Owners : Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Dr AH Parker & Mrs RMA Parker, Mike de Kock, J Malherebe & Dr J McVeigh, Hugo Merry
Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Kevin Shea
Time : 1:39:89

2nd Vertigineux
3rd Kalahari Gold

J J THE JET PLANE - Al Quoz Sprint 2009

Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Meydan Horizons
1200m Turf
26 February 2009
Nad Al Sheba Racecourse
Dubai Racing Carnival
US$ 200,000

Results :
Owners : HSN Du Preez, CF Strydom, L Houdalakis, CD Boyens
Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Kevin Shea
Time : 1:11:72

2nd Hatta Fort
3rd Dohasa

GLORIA DE CAMPEAO - Meydan Hotel Trophy 2009

Meydan Hotel Trophy
1800m Dirt
26 February 2009
Nad Al Sheba Racecourse
Dubai Racing Carnival
US$ 175,000

Results :

1st Gloria De Campeao

2nd Art Of War (SAF) Kahal - Cariad by Northern Guest
Owners : Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Mike de Kock
Trainer : Mike de Kock
Jockey : Johnny Murtagh
Breeder : Summerhill Stud

3rd Familiar Territory


summerhill yearlingsPreparations for the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales
(Photo : Grant Norval)

“Extract from the Summerhill Stud Client Newsletter”

Raging bushfires in Australia, icy conditions in Europe and the financial melt-down all add up to a lot of tough stuff, yet if you were sitting here and weren’t reading the papers or watching TV, you’d be wondering what all the fuss was about.

We’ve just completed a record Ready To Run Sale, the local economy is still growing, albeit it slowly, our cricketers are on fire, and the Cape Yearling Sale was up almost 10% on average, very much against the international trend. While the chill wind is obviously still going to blow, it seems as if South Africa is sitting a little prettier than most. There are those who might lament the Rand’s 30% depreciation in October, but for exporters and our foreign customers, its music to the ears.

Besides, Imbongi and Art Of War have both ran crackers, the latter victorious by 8,5 lengths on Thursday in Dubai. You never know, but we’re always cogniscent that the Dubai Duty Free (& others) are worth US$5 million each!

So what’s up at the ranch? We’re in the process of weaning one of the best crops of foals we’ve seen, at the same time attending to their micro-chipping (for id purposes). It’s business plan and budget time too, and with our broad management structure, we have every divisional head beavering away at their plans for the year and their departmental sums.

Land preparation for the autumn and winter pastures has just started, and we’re a month into the preparation of a terrific bunch of yearlings for the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales.

(Click here for the low down)

Interestingly, we’ve sold a number of horses in training and mares off the farm in recent weeks, and there’s been good international interest from Hong Kong, Pakistan (of all places) and Mauritius, alongside solid domestic demand. It seems people are still buying racehorses (either for the revenue or the “fun” dividend) in preference to motor cars, because that segment of the economy has really gone quiet. I should add, the horses are making their money, so there’ve been no giveaways.

(Click here to view what we have left to offer)

Hartford House is “pumping” at the moment, and there’s hardly place at the inn on a weekend well into May, so this is the “early warning” system reminding our friends that the July weekend, our Stallion Day and the KZN Broodmare sale (Thursday 2-8 July) are likely to be swallowed up very soon. I would recommend, if you’re keen to attend the races, Stallion Day, or the Broodmare and Yearling sale that you book soon.

This note comes, as always, with our best wishes from everyone at Summerhill.