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Could this be our boat coming in?


Could this be our boat coming in?

I suppose some of the joys in life are universal, others are personal: the life of Nelson Mandela, for example is an instutionalised source of pride for South Africans: a crushing defeat (or any defeat for that matter) of the All Blacks is cause for national celebration, or closer to reality, a thumping victory for the Proteas over the Australians, tickles the lot of us. Closer to home, a granddaughter’s performance in a school play, a “home-run” for one of our school students, or a rousing win for a first-timer, all these things get us up in the mornings.




Agriculture South Africa
Agriculture South Africa

Agri Business South Africa

(Photo : Sustainability Campaign)

“Agriculture topped both the socio-economic and enterprise lists.”

Mick Goss - Summerhill Stud CEO
Mick Goss - Summerhill Stud CEO

Mick Goss

Summerhill Stud CEOThere’s an old saying that goes something like “don’t make the children pay for the sins of the fathers”. It is particularly appropriate in the context of the South African farming community, and especially in KwaZulu-Natal. Politicians can be a funny old bunch, with a habit of distracting attention from their own shortcomings by creating diversions elsewhere. A popular lament among politicians in this country is the poor treatment of farm labourers, and while we are fairly tolerant of the utterances of these people in general here at Summerhill, the one thing that “miffs” us, is the broad generalization that farmers don’t take care of their staff. Let me say at the outset, most of our readers are aware of Summerhill’s social responsibility programme, and the investment we’ve made in the upliftment and growth of our people. It’s one of the pillars on which our eight Breeder’s Championships were built. But what we have done for our people is by no means exceptional: there are great examples all over this province, and indeed, throughout the land, of similar efforts on the part of farmers. We know no other business, not only here, but anywhere in the world, which works harder for the benefit of its staff, than the South African agricultural community, in the provision of housing, education, transport, health and welfare services, relative to the money we turn, and the profits farming makes. How many businesses of our size, for example, can claim to house, as we do, between 600 and 700 people every night of the year?

I’ve often said that I am among the luckiest people in the world. I wake up next to a lovely lady, who like me is getting on in years now, but who at one time I would’ve rated in the top ten in the land! My bedroom looks out on a world heritage site, and I go to work with some of the finest people in the world, not only our management team, but specifically our Zulus. Then to cap it, we get to work with the greatest creature the good Lord ever created.

What we do to uplift our people is not a sacrifice, it’s one of life’s great pleasures, because they make the sacrifices, and have done so for decades. We make up for the fact that as a farming enterprise, there is always going to be a limit on what we can afford in the way of salaries compared to bigger and richer industries. We compensate by providing homes, water and electricity, garden and refuse services, healthcare and schooling. At Summerhill we have four educational facilities, a beautiful crèche, a junior school which has provided our community with two junior international athletes and a mayor in recent times, a night mentorship and literacy programme for adults, and of course, our School of Management Excellence, (the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere). The staff own 50% of the profits from the farm trading store, and we live in one of the safest places in the world. It’s a testimony to the harmony we all share, that this is so.

These endeavours have led to 44 international scholarships at the best farms in the world for our Zulu grooms; four of our young Zulu chefs have represented South Africa at international cooking exhibitions in Zurich, Prague and Shanghai: our traditional dance troupe has ranked third and second in the world in Tokyo and Hong Kong respectively, and in 2012, Thabani Nzimande, a young Zulu from our district and a graduate of the first intake at our School of Excellence, won the award for the top practical student of his year at the English National Stud. Getting up in the mornings is easy for these achievements, and it’s gratifying to see the agricultural sector at last being recognised in official statistics for their efforts on behalf of the previously disadvantaged community.

In a recent survey conducted by “Who Owns Whom”, which appeared in the Sunday Times at the weekend, it was revealed that almost 100% of companies exceed their social investment targets, and that agriculture topped both the socio-economic and enterprise lists. The research cast its net wide in an attempt to provide a clearer picture of the contribution by the private sector towards increasing participation in the economy by a broad base of beneficiaries. Sustainability is a key business initiative, and social economic development (SED) projects are directed at benefitting communities of future customers and employees, while at the same time growing the capacity of small suppliers and customers.

The agriculture, construction and mining sectors all scored high on the enterprise development chart, and that could be a result of the proliferation of small suppliers to these industries, which are supported by other beneficiaries of enterprise development. Socio-economic development scores by sector show agriculture at 101%, transport at 95%, mining and retail 94%, construction 93%, financial services 91% and manufacturing 85%. Enterprise development by sector shows agriculture at 96%, construction at 93%, mining at 92%, financial services 89%, transport 84%, retail 84% and manufacturing 83%.

While it’s possible that in other emerging economies similar work is being done, it’s hard to envisage anything anywhere exceeding what South Africa has achieved. While you might argue that it was overdue and we had some catching up to do, it’s time for government to sit up and take notice, particularly when one considers that when it comes to service delivery, governments could take a few leaves from the books of farmers.




johannesburg wealth
johannesburg wealth

South African Skyline

(Photo : Futbolita)

“Who do you believe?”

This weekend in the Sunday Times, there was a depressing article about household debt. It was written on the back of a survey taken by people who intervene in these situations, and have a professional interest in “laying it on”. Against that, the Research Institute of one of the top banks in the world, Credit Suisse, tells another story all together, which Business Day published on the weekend.

You may like to remind us that racing people are eternally optimistic, and that may be so. We like to think Credit Suisse are right! This is what they had to say :

South Africa’s average household wealth has fully recovered from the global financial crisis, quadrupling from $8400 in 2000 to $34300 by mid-2011, a report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute shows.

The second annual Global Wealth Report, released this week, estimated there were now 71000 dollar millionaires in South Africa and projected that this number would triple in the next five years to 242000. South Africa was also home to 116000 members of the top 1% of households which own 38,5% of global wealth, and the country was the 17th-largest contributor to wealth growth globally.

Despite South Africa’s status as one of the world’s most unequal societies and the effect of the financial crisis on job losses, the period had coincided with considerable progress in improving the living standards of South Africa’s poorest, Frans Cronje, deputy CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations, said yesterday.

“No doubt this improvement in living standards was almost entirely due to the transfer of wealth from those earning money to those who were not,” he said.

The roll-out of social welfare had resulted in a “remarkable” decrease in the number of absolutely poor people and South Africa had registered enormous progress in terms of service delivery, “contrary to what people believe”.

The report projects global wealth to rise 50% in the next five years to $345-trillion, equivalent to 8,4% growth a year. Wealth per adult worldwide is expected to reach $70700 in 2016, an increase of 40% over 2011 while household wealth in Africa will rise by more than 90% to $5,8-trillion in 2016.

This year Europe surpassed North America (37%) in making up 37,2% of all millionaires in the world. In Asia-Pacific, Japan ranked first with 11% or 3,1-million millionaires, followed by Australia and China, with 1-million each.

Larry Masson, a wealth manager at FNB Private Clients, said in terms of household wealth growth in the last decade the report was spot on with all levels of society seeing “exceptional growth in income”, although some from an admittedly low base. He said household wealth growth in SA would, as ever, be tied to the performance of the global economy, which was far from certain.

Extract from Business Day




South Africa Inc
South Africa Inc

South Africa INC

(Image : Business Live/Ideate/Premium)


We’ve all got a trick to end the blues. Mine is remembering the part of movies, writes celebrated journalist, Alec Hogg. Like a scene from Road Trip where the lads congratulate themselves for vaulting over a crumbling bridge - just before their car falls apart. That lifts my darkest mood. Corny perhaps. But for me, it’s a treasure.

My own road trip this week had its bright moments. Not quite of the movie kind, but when ace money manager Wayne McCurrie gets going, he’ll even get a Prussian corporal to chuckle. Over the past few days, I joined McCurrie and some colleagues from Momentum Investments as they introduced their new business to financial advisors. They gave me the podium for 30 minutes with and open brief, which provided an opportunity to invest time in researching something close to my heart. A long-held feeling that South Africa is the real “Lucky Country”.

One of the main reasons stems from an unsung national hero, former banking registrar Errol Kruger. His strict controls kept SA banks away from a lending party. One so wild that fixing it has mortgaged the West’s next generation. Recently retired, Kruger received another anonymous honour in last week’s 2011/2012 Global Competiveness Report. The World Economic Forum data ranks South Africa’s banks the second most sound in the world, shaded only by Canada. The most popular SA emigration destination, the United Kingdom, is near the back at 111; and Ireland comes stone last of the 142 countries surveyed. Without putting too fine a point on it, unless your banks are sound, your economy can’t grow. Listen up, “Team Homecoming Revolution”.

And then there’s economic growth. My research ahead of the road trip threw up a big surprise. For each of the past 11 years, South Africa’s economy has grown faster than the two nations we look to for leadership - the United States and the UK. A couple of years can be an aberration. But not 11 in a row. That’s called a trend. Proof, too, for false prophets who still preach about an “overvalued” rand, and warn of an imminent currency crash. They’re just plain wrong. Apart from its superior growth rate, SA’s national balance sheet is one of the strongest in the world. With a national debt ratio half that of the best number of the European Union.

But the real reason for the “Lucky Country” tag is, as McCurrie put it on our travels, because “China is our china”. SA’s economic growth rate is now strongly correlated to China’s. And if there is one country you’d bet on continuing to thrive no matter what, it’s the Middle Kingdom. And to confirm the new-best-friend (NFB) status, it was China that invited SA to join the world’s most exclusive club, the newly renamed Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). So we may ask the Aussies, which is the real Lucky Country?

Other accolades come from a Business Report preview, by Humphrey Borkum, of the annual meeting of the World Federation of (Stock) Exchanges, to be hosted by South Africa shortly.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, the JSE was once again placed first in terms of market regulation and we have now moved from seventh to fourth in the provision of equity market finance. Our highly rated accountancy firms repeated their first place in strength of auditing and reporting standards. I always remind myself that this is South Africa Inc competing with 138 other countries and the comparison is not merely against developing countries but against the top developed countries. Congratulations are due to all concerned and to the financial departments of the Government.

Extracts from The Weekend Witness and The Mercury Business Report



world economic forum davos
world economic forum davos

Not investing in Africa is like…

(Photos : Maps/Ethnite/EconoInsight)



Last weekend, Cheryl and I were honoured guests at the wedding of good friends, Alec and Jeanette Hogg, he of MoneyWeb and journalistic fame. (Click here to read more…) Their honeymoon takes them to interesting places, and on their return they translocate to their new home, adjacent to Summerhill. We have much to look forward to.

Meanwhile though, as this continent’s foremost financial journalist, Alec is a regular invitee to the goings on at Davos (and to Warren Buffet’s annual Berkshire Hathaway bash). His current business revolves around the meeting of the world’s most powerful economies, and there was an interesting take on Africa’s profile at this meeting in the Business Report.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be 1 percentage point above the global average, and puts eight African countries in its top 20 fastest-expanding economies in 2010. Oil rich Angola and the Republic of Congo will lead the charge with growth rates of more than 9 percent and 12 percent respectively, both beating China, according to the IMF’s most recent projections.

“Africa is the continent of the long game”, said Tara O’Connor of Africa Risk Consulting. “It is not perfect, but the overarching trend is one towards entrenching political stability, which allows businesses to operate much more consistently”.

For some African countries, particularly those helped by Chinese investment and its thirst of energy and minerals, another boom may be approaching.

Investors with cheap cash needing to spice up returns in more obscure parts of the globe are asking whether Africa can shift from final investment frontier into the emerging market mainstream. Reflecting this interest, Africa got top billing at the annual meeting at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last week.

“Not investing in Africa is like missing out on Japan and Germany in the 1950’s, southeast Asia in the 1980’s and emerging markets in the 1990’s:”, said Francis Beddlington, the head of research at emerging market investment house Insparo Capital.

For all the previous false dawns, there is a growing belief that the continent – home to 53 countries, a rapidly urbanising young population of a billion people and as much as a third of the world’s natural resources – is changing.


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


investec“Investec to sponsor English Derby”

Ask any student of racing twenty years ago which the greatest racing event in the world was, and they would’ve unhesitatingly answered the English Derby. Today the title is a vigorous contest between the “Derby” (as it’s commonly known), Paris’ Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai’s World Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the Japan Cup. Certainly, if not alone the greatest, the English Derby stands apart as the most famous.

For all that, who would ever have expected an upstart South African bank to become the Derby’s sponsor? Upstart, did we say? Yes, in global terms that’s probably an apt description, but Investec has always been an innovator, a “breed-shaper”, as we might term it in racing parlance, and that’s exactly what the local banking pacemaker agreed to this week for the next five years.

No doubt, the hand of Bernard Kantor, avid racing man and the fellow that bought us Count Dubois, was more than prominent in this relationship, which follows a £38 million revamp of the Derby’s home, Epsom Downs.

Did we leave out another marquee event when we counted the “big five”? Yes, we probably did, and that’s Royal Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which for almost two decades was sponsored by South Africa’s De Beers. The difference here is that, at the time, De Beers happened to be the world’s biggest diamond producer, whilst Investec has a way to go before it can claim the same status in the banking world. Maybe, just maybe, this is a precursor of what’s to come.

Well done, Investec. From one champion team to another, we salute you.

Of Charl Pretorius, Cocoa Rose and Jacuzzi's




When Cocoa Rose steamed home in the Juvenile event at Scottsville on Sunday, the fact she was Kahal’s second highlighted youngster winning on the weekend, was not the only remarkable thing about the race.

Cocoa Rose has run just three times following her purchase for R70,000 just a few months ago at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale. This victory and her close-up second to the Graded Stakes performer, Ashjaan, has already virtually repaid the outlay of her 10 owners.

The real fable here though, is that five of her owners are “first-timers”, converted to “victimhood” by none other than one of the great scribes of the game, Charl Pretorius (of Racingweb fame, seen here celebrating at an address we daren’t disclose, judging by his company in the Jacuzzi!

Japan Breeding Industry shows dramatic downsizing

Agnes Tachyon
(Photo : Mikiko Ueda)

In tandem with a decline in the economy, the breeding industry shows a 34% drop in the number of mares being bred since the peak of 1992.


Michele MacDonald writes in Owner Breeder that in a remarkably parallel arc to the grim economic downturn, breeding in Japan has contracted. With statistics showing that Japan’s economy shrunk at the end of 2008 more than at any time since 1974, the Japan Racing Association reported that the nation’s registered foal crop was only about 6,800, which marks the lowest number since 1974.

Since Japan produced 10,309 foals to hit its peak in 1992, production has plunged 34%. The number of stallions has also fallen by more than half; 603 in 1991, the year the largest foal crop was conceived, to 281 in 2008.


Of that group, 104, or 37%, had been imported, with breeders relying on America more than any other country. Perhaps most interestingly, ten of the 281 stallions standing in Japan last year covered about one-fifth of the nation’s 11,360 mares that were bred, and each of those ten, all of whom stood at the Yoshida family’s Shadai Stallion Station, was bred to more than 200 mares.


Six of the ten most active stallions are sons of Sunday Silence, including the three leaders, Agnes Tachyon, Daiwa Major and Fuji Kiseki, thus further concentrating the blood of Japan’s all-time most significant sire, whose daughters also remain a big part of the breeding pool.


Agnes Tachyon has made a bid to be his sire’s successor after earning his first leading sire title in 2008, with Fuji Kiseki second in last year’s rankings by progeny earnings.


However, some challengers are emerging, with Japanese Derby winner King Kamehameha ranking as leading freshman sire last year and Symboli Kris S, the leading first-year sire of 2007, standing atop Japan’s 2009 general sire list up to early March.

Karel Miedema reviews National Yearling Sale 2009

Uncle Tommy
(Photo : Jean Stanley)

karel miedemaKarel Miedema Sporting PostThe world can look in wonder at South Africa’s flagship National Sale, the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale. True, the sale’s aggregate and average price followed world-wide trends downward, but closer scrutiny tells a remarkable story, writes Karel Miedema for the Sporting Post.


“The sale as a whole was down on the 2008 record breaker. Last year 501 lots accumulated a total of R200million, compared to 490 lots for R152million this time round. That’s a drop of R48million. Taking the top 10% of lots by sex for 2009, we find 26 colts selling for R750k or more, totaling R29million.


Similarly, 24 fillies sold for R500k or more, totaling R18million. Added together this gives R47million. Last year 40 colts went for R750k or more, and 43 fillies for R500k and up. Together they made for a total of R93million. The difference between these two top 10% totals is R46million – just about the amount by which the sale went down. In other words, the drop in R47million aggregate can be entirely attributed to the pricedrop amongst the top 10% of lots sold.


Median prices by sex tell their story, too. The median price is the mid-point between highest and lowest price, and in the case of horse auctions tells a truer story than a straight average would, because the high (extreme) prices have a lesser effect. The median price for colts in 2009 was R250k, down only 9% from R275k in 2008. As was predicted based on what happened at previous yearling sales this year, demand for fillies fell through the floor. The 2009 median for the weaker sex was R200k, down 20% versus the R250k in 2008. The overall median was down 15%, to R220k from R260k last year.


Given this background, the conclusion must be that South Africa is still on a high and that pre-sale doomsayers are eating humble pie, indeed. The future looks rosy.


Post sale comments from visitors echoed these sentiments. “In the current economic climate the South African National Yearling Sale is without a doubt the best performing thoroughbred sale in the world,’’ said Australian buyer Paul Guy, echoing auctioneer Steve Davis’ earlier assessment that this was his “strongest sale in the last six’’ he’d conducted around the globe.

Team Valor International’s Barry Irwin, on his fifth successive visit, secured eight foals and summed up the event, saying, “The value here is superb, it is a joy to come to this sale and I’ll be booking for next year.’’


Barry Irwin, renowned as one of the shrewdest buyers on the planet, described his purchase of Klawervlei Stud’s Lot 587, a daughter of Captain Al from Grade 1 winner Roxanne, as “incredible, because I would have gone to well over R1million for her and paid only R600k.’’ He added: “She’s probably the nicest looking filly I’ve seen. They don’t come better looking than this.’’


South Africa’s Champion breeders Summerhill Stud reaped the rewards for their great achievements of the last few years, selling the top-priced colt and filly at the sale. The Kahal colt, Uncle Tommy, a half-brother to Rebel King, was knocked down to Mike Bass for R2.4 million, while Team Valor bought first-season sire Solskjaer’s daughter Matara Garden for R1.5 million.”

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ORMOND FERRARIS : Doyen of South African Trainers

ormond ferraris (heather morkel)Ormond Ferraris
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

“Millionaire’s Row”

It’s a well documented fact that Summerhill was the last of the big farms in South Africa to register it’s first million Rand deal at the sales. Whether that’s a reflection of a lack of marketing finesse, or a sense of treating the market with respect, will forever be a matter of debate. But what is so, is that all of a sudden it’s “raining” millionaires at Summerhill.

We kicked off at the Ready to Run Sale in November, with a ROCK OF GIBRALTAR colt registering R2.2million, a GALILEO filly R1.5million, and a MUHTAFAL colt at R1million, and coupled with Sunday’s R2.4million and R1.5million respectively, that’s five in the space of as many months.

Whether he read our adverts, proclaiming the Summerhill racehorse the Toyota of the South African industry, is difficult to say, but it seems the doyen of our trainers, Ormond Ferraris, must have at least cast his eyes over the ad. A man who, in common with the best of his countrymen, respects excellent quality, unparalleled dependability and outstanding value, as much as any, the attributes for which Toyota has become famous, are exactly what Ormond must have seen in this draft. Signing as he did on Sunday for no fewer than four (25%) of the horses put through the ring. So for us the consolation lies not only in the value he got, but also in where they’re going.

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South African Resilience Dictates National Sales

south african fight (michael nefdt)“…it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale
“Tommy” Tops the Trade

Readers of the Summerhill Sire’s Brochure last year, will recall the statement “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”, that probably sums up the resilience of South Africans. And if ever you needed evidence of it, you’d have wanted a seat at the ringside at Sunday’s proceedings.

An average price of R321,000 after three hundred Lots had been traded, and an aggregate closing on R80million, tells it’s own story, with every indication the aggregate would sail past the R100million mark by the end of yesterday. Stories of trade 40% down at Sydney’s Easter Sales (running concurrently), might have had most people quivering in their boots. But South Africans, with a history of dealing with adversity in so many different shapes and forms, can always be relied upon to exhibit their standard traits of courage and foresight, and their looking forward rather than behind them. That goes for a number of our overseas adherents too, who make the pilgrimage each year.

National Yearling Sale '09 Update

charles laird (heather morkel)Charles Laird at the TBA Sales Complex, Gosforth Park, Johannesburg
(Photo : Heather Morkel)


Look, let’s not forget, this is only a news flash reflecting just one night’s business, but on the face of things, a horse sale which is only 21,7% off last year’s record highs, given the state of the international economy, has to be a good result.

With international bourses down 40-50% and our own stock market in a 30% retreat, you’d have expected at least a similar outcome at the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale. But those who tuned in to Alec Hogg’s interview with Summerhill’s Mick Goss on Moneyweb’s business affairs programme last evening, would have been buoyed by the news of the number of “wannabe” buyers parading through the TBA’s sales complex at Gosforth Park, in the days leading into the sale, and his prediction that the “ponies” would outperform the market.

Like the three kings of biblical fame, they’ve come from the UK, the USA, Hong Kong, Australia, France and Singapore, to pay their respects to the cream of South African breeding, and from what we’ve heard, they’ve not been disappointed at what’s on show.

In the end, an average of R306 500 was a pleasing return, especially in the light of the fact there were only three millionaires in the evening to influence matters, and nothing approaching R2million.

Battle of the night, despite a top price of R1,5million, was the right to own the Spectrum half sister to Warm White Night and dual Gold Cup hero, Highland Night, in which the formidable combination of Markus Jooste and Charles Laird finally prevailed at R1,3million.

What is evident thus far, is that the gap between the progeny of the big three sires and those of the next tier, is no longer so glaringly apparent. Emerging sires Kahal, Muhtafal, National Emblem and Captain Al are growing in popularity with every sale, which the Summerhill team has to be delighted with the first showing of Cataloochees (2 fillies at R350k and R210k respectively), while Solskjaer is expected to kickoff in a big way Sunday.

Highlights of Summerhill’s evening were a R450k Kahal, brother to Gold Cup winner, Desert Links, (sold for the late Sheikh Maktoum’s Financial Director Stephen Gill, and Greig and Michelle Muir’s Muhtafal own sister to Alejate, at a cool R425k from the indomitable Michael Azzie.

Click here to listen to Alec Hogg’s interview with Mick Goss : Live Streaming of National Sales

The Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale begins today in an atmosphere of anticipation. The dramatic events on the global economic stage and a general slowing in the local economy has left many analyists wondering how the local Thoroughbred market might fare.

At the TBA Sales Complex there is a cautious optimism among vendors because, as Team Valor’s Barry Irwin says, “this is the best value thoroughbred sale in the world.” With 596 lots on offer, there are some mouth-watering prospects for the astute buyer. Bloodstock South Africa are holding thumbs that buyers are tempted by the progeny of many of South Africa’s, as well as the world’s, top stallions.

The Summerhill team has been working feverishly this past week meeting a steady stream of potential buyers. If you missed it… our draft this year includes progeny from a band of formidable international stallions : Johannesburg, Royal Academy, Oasis Dream and Haafhd. On debut at the sale are the progeny of Solskjaer (brother to champion stayer, Yeats, who was recently awarded a Timeform rating of 128), Cataloochee (the record setting son of Al Mufti), as well as the Summerhill stalwarts Kahal and Muhtafal (sire of Dubai World Cup star, Paris Perfect) and Malhub (Kingmambo’s best racing son at stud).

In an attempt to make the sale more “user friendly”, Bloodstock South Africa have discontinued the contentious green pages and select session. There will also be uninterrupted coverage on Tellytrack (DSTV Channel 232), and for the first time the sale will be streamed live online, starting tonight at 18:30 (South Africa time).

Just log onto to follow the action.

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

The Toyota of South African Racing

“Everything keeps going right…”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of our involvement in the breeding business. In all that time, the need to provide the best bang for a man’s buck, has never been greater.


It’s a matter of pride to us that we’ve developed a reputation for the production of stock with the attributes South Africans admire most: excellent quality, unparalleled dependability, and outstanding value.


In a manner of speaking, you’d be forgiven for labeling the Summerhill racehorse the Toyota of South African racing. At the end of the day, they’re the only horses to have delivered up four consecutive Breeders Championships in the past thirty years. And champions are what this game’s about.


As they used to say in the classics, (and occasionally in that famous jingle), for us, everything keeps going right .


View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

Facebook, Twitter, Social Media and Horseracing

bold application facebook

Bold Application by Kahal
(Gold Circle/Summerhill Stud)


Social media is defined as any platform where users can interact, create content, communicate and converse in a free and informal manner using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies, most commonly via the internet and mobile communication networks.


Leading the online social media frontier is Facebook.


Facebook is a free-access social networking platform that allows users to join networks organised by location or interest groups, thus facilitating the easy transfer of information between personal contacts or organisations.


Ray Paulick, leading voice in the US Thoroughbred industry and previous editor in chief of BloodHorse, last year launched the online publication, The Paulick Report (, which aims to provide the Thoroughbred Industry with an independent voice for news, analysis and commentary.


The Thoroughbred Daily News recently published an interview with Ray Paulick in which he discusses his experience with Facebook and other social networking websites from a horseracing standpoint.


TDN : What has your experience been on Facebook? How does it help you keep in better touch with racing, or promote your racing product to customers? How might the industry better use social networking to promote itself? What other sites do you use?


Ray Paulick : Like many middle-aged adults, I first learned about Facebook from my kids, who now rely on this tool more than e-mail for communications with their friends. I’ve found Facebook to be a useful tool for reaching a new audience, and if I’m going to generalize, I’d say it’s a younger demographic, though more and more people from my generation are discovering it as a fun and useful way to keep in touch with individuals or groups of people, from old friends to relatives to folks I’ve met online.


From a business standpoint, Facebook has been a means to heighten awareness among racing enthusiasts about the Paulick Report, though our audience consists mostly of people with an investment or serious interest in the Thoroughbred industry. In addition to my own Facebook page, the Paulick Report has a group page on Facebook, but we try not to inundate people with breaking news or updates because I’m afraid that if you flood inboxes you’ll lose a good part of your audience.


We’re still tweaking how to best utilize this tool, and are looking at other platforms, including Twitter, which has really caught on in some areas of news and communications. There’s no question that the future of publications, news gathering and networking is online.


Having said that, I think many people who have been in the Thoroughbred industry a while are a little slow to the dance on some of these tools. I’m glad to see so many racetracks and organizations getting on board this online bandwagon. As marketing budgets are cut, it’s a very cost-effective means to keep in touch with customers and other interested parties. In particular, I like what the New York Racing Association is doing on YouTube - adding original content to the site that is both entertaining for fans and useful for horseplayers. I hope other tracks learn from them, because if we don’t start reaching out to where most younger people are spending their time these days – online – we’re only going to see our fan base continue to shrink and our demographics take on an even older profile than we currently have.”


The percentage of businesses taking advantage of the “free” social media environment is currently minute in comparison to the potential on offer. This is something that anyone can and should be involved in, especially in times of scaled back marketing budgets.


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”.



thoroughbred speed (michael nefdt)In pursuit of the “Perfect Equine Athlete”

This is my response to Saturday’s article which suggested that thoroughbreds might have “topped out” in terms of their progression as speedsters. The answer is simply “NO”, they haven’t. The first thing any correspondent on racing has to understand is that, unlike human competition, horseracing is a tactical business, the idea being to get the race to pan out to suit the individual horse’s style of running. Bear in mind, unlike human beings, the horse has no ambition to break records, as he doesn’t understand the subtleties of timing. His instinct is to run, and in the process, to beat his opponent. That’s what his genes have been honed towards throughout his 300 plus years of existence, and so it’s a wonder human beings have been able to teach horses to settle in a race, off the pace, and await their time.

The reality is, with the enormous prize money available to racehorses (human races are run for significantly less), the best tactics are all important, and getting the horse across the line first is the only thing that matters. If a record tumbles on the way, it’s a bonus.

Of course, like every form of endeavour, the closer you get to perfection, the more difficult it becomes to establish new records, and it’s no different in the field of human sports. Throughout history, people have set themselves targets against which to run, yet the biggest increments in human athletics have been in the last 50 years, where special nutrition, enhanced facilities and rigorous training programmes have dominated, even more so in the last twenty years.

In the world of the equine runner, the extent to which horses could be worked was long ago taken beyond where human beings were prepared to stretch themselves, so “topping out” (or reaching a stage closer to perfection) in human athletics. But all of this ignores the remaining opportunities for improvement.

The fact is, at Summerhill, we’ve found several means in the last fifteen years of significantly improving the performance of our own horses, and we’re nowhere near done yet. Our suspicion is, as has been the case with human athletes as they’ve grown bigger and stronger by the decade, is that there are still genetic and nutritional advances which can shape the equine athlete, and take it to levels we’ve yet to explore. That, and the discovery of the latent potential of our own environment, which we still have the daily luxury of exploring.


Michael Clower reviews Ready To Run Sale 2008

denis and gael evansDenis and Gael Evans
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“Inspiration Bucks The Trend”
by Michael Clower
South African Bloodstock News
Issue 6 March 2009

michael clowerMichael Clower South African Bloodstock NewsIn the long history of the world’s bloodstock industry few men have been able to turn the market. The qualities required for this include immense drive, an inspired imagination and a dedicated determination to succeed no matter how insuperable the obstacles appear.

Not many people are blessed with all these attributes, and the bloodstock industry has only a small pool to draw on. A number of its people have tried to buck impossible-looking trends over the years but few have succeeded. However Mick Goss joined the elite band at Gosforth Park on the first Sunday in November.

The Summerhill Stud boss has been the main driving force behind the success of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale since its inception but, with thoroughbred sales round the world reeling under the impact of the global credit crunch, few expected the TBA’s fastest-rising sale to emerge unscathed.

Many were steeling themselves for a 20% drop yet Mick Goss kept up his artillery of relentless promotion as if, like a modern-day Napoleon, he was simply not going to allow defeat to enter his calculations. His boundless enthusiasm paid off with a 34% rise in the average price and a sense of well-being that spread through the country’s studs as if it was manna from heaven.

“The sale was a tribute to many more than myself,” said Mick Goss, attempting to divert the kudos. “It was a grand catalogue of fine horses, prepared by some serious horsemen, and I think the South African racing public deserve credit for their courage and foresight in supporting the sale.”

It was a grand catalogue and there is no doubt that it read a good deal stronger than in previous years. There is still improvement to be made before the overall level reaches that of the National Yearling Sale and, if this can be achieved, there is every reason for the graph to continue to climb.

A new Ready To Run record top price was set when Basil Marcus went to R2,2million for an Australian-bred colt by seven-time Group One winner Rock Of Gibraltar (sire of Eagle Mountain) from a strong American family.

“I saw him at the Summerhill Gallops and also on the farm before that,” said Basil Marcus. “He was the one I wanted to buy. He had everything in the right place, he was very well balanced and he had a beautiful action.”

Basil Marcus was acting for Denis and Gael Evans, Johannesburg-based owners who “have a lot of young horses with me.” Their sale-topper had been purchased eight months earlier for A$75,000 (approximately R500,000) at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

As last year, Australian-breds sold well and they accounted for four of the top seven prices. Marlon Aronstam’s two Brazilian imports also fared well.

Oscar Pistorius’ decision to get involved could have far-reaching benefits for racing and breeding. The brilliant athlete bought the Kahal filly Watchful for R200,000 and is involved in the syndicate that purchased the second-highest priced lot, the Galileo filly Insasa, for R1,5million. Mike Azzie will train both.

There is a close correlation between the athletics track and the racetrack and, if either of these two fillies do well, racing will be propelled into the limelight, other stars will see the appeal of owning racehorses and the public will want to go and watch.