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"Ubuhle bendoda zinkomo zayo"... as the Zulu saying goes.

 

For a nation whose renown has come from their heroism in battle, it might seem strange that their quaintness is most often the source of Zulu intrigue these days.  The Zulus have a saying in their language that goes “Ubuhle bendoda zinkomo zayo”, which means that a man’s attraction is often judged by his cattle.  This connection  with the stock we raise is as old as mankind himself, and it has endowed our people with an instinctive understanding of Thoroughbreds, remarkable patience and beautiful, sympathetic hands when they’re on board a youngster.

Every year, in the European spring, we send a half dozen or so of our young people abroad to work a season on the Irish, American, and English farms of the Rulers of Dubai, the Sheikhs Maktoum.  Those that have worked with them from around the globe will tell you of their competence, their composure and their diligence.

They are admired everywhere for their boldness, their character and of course, for the stories they tell. Zulu legend and custom remember, is in the mouths of its custodians, not in the history books.  These are the people that serve our mares, deliver the foals and raise them to maturity.  They school the youngsters, prep them for sale and teach them to run.  Well, not quite.  You don’t have to teach our freshmen to run, but you might well play a part in helping them realize their potential and develop their confidence.

You see, the Thoroughbred has been bred to run.  His genealogy is the best recorded history of any species, including mankind’s. For the best part of 300 years, every ancestor of the Thoroughbred has been carefully tabulated and throughout this time it’s been selectively bred for its speed, its courage, stamina and durability, its grace and elegance, and that’s why it’s the noblest of God’s creatures.  What during that time have we been selecting for in the evolution of homo sapiens? Probably not much more than fame and fortune, and that’s why so often we are what we are.

The Summerhill-bred is a genetic masterpiece, the product of a painstaking process of identifying the superior genes from the best blood over a period of seven decades.  An assembly of these magnificent creatures can be likened to a gallery of the Old Masters. They have the capacity to impress your friends, and in their acceleration, to leave your enemies behind.

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HEAR THE DRUMS... do you hear the drums?

Hear The Drums
(Wally Strydom)

 

As we’ve said before, the results of our Ready To Run graduates are the best advertisement for the quality and value inherent in the Ready To Run programme, and they’ve been lighting up racetracks around the country with their performances.

On Tuesday at Fairview, Hear The Drums recorded his 18th career victory in the Pinnacle Plate over 1200m in a most impressive fashion. His win cemented his status as one of the Legends of Eastern Cape Racing, and this win has pushed his earnings close to the R1 million mark.

The extra 200 metres was expected to favour What A Jet, but  Hear The Drums had other ideas. From the start he dictated the pace, settling into an easy rhythm and leading from the front by a length from What A Jet and Ziplock. It was only when he hit the 300 metre mark that he was given a reminder by jockey Gerrit Schlechter and he obliged by moving up a gear to win by an amazing 6 lengths from the game What A Jet and Ziplock.

Hear The Drums is one of the luminaries of Summerhill’s Ready To Run programme. He was last year’s Eastern Cape Triple Champion (Older Horse of the Year, Sprinter of the Year and Horse of the Year) and has set the stage alight by notching up some phenomenal performances. He has won carrying imposts well in excess of 60kgs, a feat which would normally be difficult for a horse of his size to shoulder. But this is no normal horse and it just goes to show the guts this fellow has.

A R45 000 purchase from the 2004 Summerhill Ready To Run draft, Hear The Drums is owned by our good friends, Peter and Gail Fabricius, and is  trained by leading Eastern Cape trainer, Des McLachlan.

PS. If your computer speakers are on, click your mouse over the drum…. do you “Hear The Drums”? 

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Our horses keep the flag flying high... and another Ready to Run Graduate shines


Confirming his status as one of the Eastern Cape’s most promising four year olds, Paris Perfect (by Muhtafal) out of Candle Princess, bred by our long-time friends Peter and Gail Fabricius, ran away with the laurels in the Merit Rated 75 Handicap over 2000m at Arlington on Friday. Recording his 10th career win, Paris Perfect again disproved the view that progeny of Muhtafal are not suited to distances over 1900m. Biding his time near the front for most of the race, he got down to busines in the home straight, breezing past race leader Moscow Circus to go away and win by what would’ve been a larger margin had jockey Gerrit Schlechter not eased him down at the finish.

With most people’s attention focused on the main races at Clairwood on Saturday, the Gold Challenge and Tibouchina Stakes, the final race on the card, the 1600m KZN Chapter Challenge Final (Merit Rated), produced a storming performance. El Padrino, a  son of Summerhill super sire Muhtafal, and out of a Desert Team mare Dot Dot Dash, owned by Summerhill stalwart and long standing Muhtafal supporter, Steve Sturlese, showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels. Hanging back near the middle of the field, El Padrino accelerated with about 300 metres to go, and effortlessly passed the ever game race leader, Day Of The Piper, to win going away by over four lengths. In the post-race interview, his trainer, an elated David Goss revealed that he’d thought so highly of his chances in this race, that he placed a huge bet on him to win. When asked to reveal the exact amount, David Goss was rather coy, joking that he didn’t want the taxman to get his hands on it!

Meanwhile, on Monday at Turffontein, another Ready To Run graduate from 2006, Lisa Anne, by the late Summerhill sire, Rambo Dancer, and out of Forest Edge, owned by old friends and great Summerhill supporters Bruce and Jo Gardner, put in an impressive showing to win her first race, the Maiden Plate for Fillies and Mares over 1200m. Cutting through the field with effortless ease, she hit the front with 200m to go and went away to win, giving long-time friend and trainer Gary Alexander the first of his two wins at the track.

 

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BAYETE IMBONGI

 

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The Race of the Season... the GOLD CHALLENGE.

 

Last year’s Gold Challenge attracted the highest average merit rating of any field in the 2007 racing year, and it seems the 2008 version will be no different. Six Grade One winners and two consecutive Guineas victors is a formidable assembly by any measure, particularly when it includes several who might be celebrating their swansongs before their departure for foreign climes. No doubt, their connections will do everything to see them go out in a blaze of glory, and the likes of Our Giant, Pocket Power and Imbongi will be primed to the minute. No excuses this time.

For Imbongi, the only three year old in the line-up, this will be his biggest challenge to date. Yes, he did beat Pocket Power, Successful Bidder, Bold Ellinore and Floatyourboat in the Drill Hall last time at the races, but this one’s an extra furlong and the opposition will be at the top of their game.

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Views from The Derby Festival

Ladies Day at Epsom
(Tom Hevezi/AP Photo)
(Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday was Ladies Day at the Epsom Derby Festival. A wonderfully stylish day out, Epsom’s Ladies Day was the place to be, with ladies dressed up in their best to see the finest fillies competing in the feature race - The Oaks.

On Ladies Day,  ladies take centre stage, both on and off the course.

Remember, our own Vodacom Durban July is just 28 days away and our Ladies are sure to shine, “it’s a shore thing”.

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DAILY NEWS 2000 : Big Weekend of Racing

 

Those people who regularly read our “propaganda” will recall our claim that where there’s Group One racing, there’s almost invariably a Summerhill horse in the vicinity.

This weekend’s no exception, with the renewal of the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1) at Greyville. While most of the principal suspects in contention for this year’s Champion Three Year Old Classic Horse are in the line-up, including Russian Sage, King’s Gambit, Tan Can and Lion’s Blood, a notable absentee is one of the prime contenders for Champion Three Year Old Sprinter, Imbongi.

That said, Summerhill is nonetheless represented by almost 20% of the field in the form of Sheikh Mohammed’s Galant Gagnant, Craig Eudey and Co’s Thandolwami, (can you believe it, he’s drawn in the sticks again?) and Mike Miller’s The Big Ask, who was placed behind Umngazi and Imbongi in the R500 000 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup back in November.

We might be among the relative lightweights in the field, but the Summerhill horses have never been afraid at the prospect of boxing above their weight, and while the odds seem to be stacked against them given the conditions of the race, don’t be surprised to see a joker pop up in the pack.

Either way, it’s going to be one helluva race, and at post-time (4:05 pm tomorrow) tune in to Tellytrack on DSTV channel 232, and you’ll get the whole show.

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Icy Air with BARRY WATSON

Frosty Summerhill Silhouettes
(Annet Becker)

The frost has finally arrived. Summerhill Stud’s Agriculture Manager, Barry Watson, shares with us his thoughts on this imperative cycle in nature.

“Finally it has come, the first for the season, a good touch of frost. It finally arrived after a light sprinkling of rain yesterday which undoubtedly helped supply the all important moisture that was to be frosted. June the 5th, and yes it has come late.
Almost four weeks late as compared to last year (the 9th of May). What we must also bear in mind is that even last year’s frost was late. If you ask some of the older generation who have farmed this part of god’s country for decades, they will tell you that the first frost used to come in the second to third week of April, every year, regular as clock work. Is this a global warming issue?

For us biological farmers who have to take into account natures cycles as part of our every day labours, this late frost comes with a whole host of issues for thought, especially for those who work with god’s noblest creatures.

Firstly, frost has to come annually to put back the balance of microbial and fungal life in our soils. Remember first that we farm grass or else there would be nothing for our horses to eat. This reset in the soil helps set back the pathogenic build up which occurs throughout our summer months. You may well ask why we have these pathogens in our soils to begin with especially if they could have an effect on our horses. Well you know the saying “Too much of a good thing is …….”. They help keep a balance in the environment but as the season progresses they always have a tendency to build up as the season comes to an end. For us grass farmers the beneficial bacterias and fungi that are effective, are the ones that help capture free nutrients in the soil and air above and transform them into a form that can be readily absorbed by the plant, thereby fertilizing the natural way.

For the serious stockman, they know that late summer is the most critical time for a whole host of diseases, especially those that are carried by vectors such as midges. Now if the frost is late, the population of these vectors, and also certain diseases, grows larger before the frost comes. This means that by the time the spring rains come the population that has been lying dormant throughout winter will be greater in numbers than if the frost the previous season had come earlier.

Frost also stops many a disease in its tracks as they simply can not handle the cold.

So even though we may have runny noses and sore throats, mother nature has a reason, there always is reason for what she does.”

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Golden Horse Casino Sprint

Get Adobe Flash player
(Golden Horse Casino)

Summerhill Stud is well represented in this Saturday’s racing bonanza at Scottsville Racecourse. There are no less than 9 Summerhill-sired runners entered in the four Group 1 races.

RACE 5 - Gr1 ALLAN ROBERTSON FILLIES CHAMPIONSHIP 1200m - 1.30pm
3 GOAT (LABEEB x HELLO DOLLY)
6 KESHA (BRAASHEE x BABY BATTLE)

RACE 6 - Gr1 GOLD REEF RESORTS MEDALLION 1200m - 2.05pm
10 THEKKADY (NATIONAL EMBLEM x VERVE CLIQUOT)

RACE 7 - Gr1 SOUTH AFRICAN FILLIES SPRINT 1200m - 2.45pm
5 HOT RECEPTION (MUHTAFAL x TRIPLE TEMPO)

RACE 8 - Gr1 GOLDEN HORSE CASINO SPRINT 1200m - 3.25pm
4 REBEL KING (NATIONAL EMBLEM x COUSIN LINDA)
9 FAIR BRUTUS (MUHTAFAL x NATIONAL GYPSY)
11 RELINYANE (MUHTAFAL x LE TOUESSROK)
13 THUNDER KEY (MUHTAFAL x SPECIAL KEY)
17 PEGASUS EMBLEM (NATIONAL EMBLEM x ABOVE THE WAVES)

If you are not going racing, be sure to catch all the action on Tellytrack, DSTV channel 232. 

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The departure of STANLEY FREDERICK HARRISON : The dawning of a new age

Stanley and Phyllis Harrison
(Summerhill Stud/Olivia Schaffer/Michael Nefdt)

You’d have to go back to the year of Nelson Mandela’s birth to recall the birthdate of Stanley Frederick Harrison, who’s now in his 91st year. For the past 20 years he and his lively wife, Phyllis, have graced Summerhill, Hartford and our environs with their enthusiasm and zest for life. Well into his 80’s, Stan continued to manage the hygiene of the farm, the stocking of the trout, the bird counts, and most importantly, he kept tabs on every winner that flowed from our stallion barn.

Just a fortnight ago, he provided us with a resume of every stallion’s progeny, right back to the time of our “grandest” man, Northern Guest, with a run-down of their winners, (by sex), their Stakes performers, their average wins per winner. A fascinating record, meticously kept in his own longhand, for later generations to enjoy.

On Monday, after 20 years at Summerhill, this gracious couple packed up their goods, said goodbye to the birds in their garden and a tribe of grandchildren and great grandchildren, and headed for a retirement complex in Hillcrest.

“Granny” Harrison was until recently a regular visitor to the Admin Office, so she’ll no doubt be missed by Tanya, Megan & Chantal. There’s not a soul though who won’t miss their decency, and the unusual things they added to our lives.

As he was leaving, SFH remarked that he’d spent the best 20 years of his life with us, and that there were only two things that stood out as “disasters”. The first was when a rat shorted the wires in his car, ignited a fire which destroyed his garage and the car (Granny’s good old Catholic response “God has his ways!”) and when he was on his way to feed the trout, and his replacement car ran away with him, and plunged into the dam!

We all wish them a long life.

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ASTRAPAK 1900 : CATMANDU leads charge for ANDRE KIRSTEN


Andre Kirsten and Catmandu
(Gold Circle)

The R300 000 Astrapak 1900 (Gr 2) to be run at Greyville this Friday evening is a key race on the Champions Season programme. This race is a vital stepping stone to the 112th running of the Vodacom Durban July with the winner being almost guaranteed a place in the starting line-up.

From a Summerhill perspective Catmandu (Makaarem x Gypsey Spirit) from the yard of Andre Kirsten, has gotten better with each run this season. The four-year-old has an excellent record of five wins and nine places from eighteen starts including placings in the Wolf Power Handicap, the Drumstar Handicap and the Horse Chestnut. A repeat of his recent Gomma Gomma Challenge effort would see him going close here despite having to lug 58kg and concede up to 5,5kg to his rivals.

However, the 3-year-olds have been faring well against their older rivals - witness Eddington and Imbongi - and the latter’s stablemate Rudra, from the yard of Mike de Kock, must also be a strong fancy as he has form over this course and distance and races from the bottom of the weights. Mike Bass’ Floatyourboat, Charles Laird’s Hunting Tower and Dean Kannemeyer’s Jagged Ice are all sufficiently classy to win here if they can turn up at the top of their games, whilst Dean Kannemeyer’s Wonder Lawn and Mike Bass’ River Jetez, have shown enough to warrant respect.

Look out too for Michael Millar-trained Outcome (Muhtafal x Culminate) who is a decent filly and having seven career victories to date, is yet to let her connections down. Also Sean Tarry’s Run Angel Run (Makaarem x Foxy Angel) is yet to run a really bad race, however this is the first time she is taking on this level of male competition.

you_tube_link.jpg
Watch Catmandu’s run in the Gomma Gomma Challenge 2008

 

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Breathtaking Autumn at Summerhill and Hartford

It’s already May 16th, and we can’t remember a year in the almost thirty years we’ve been here, where the frost has come this late. We’ve seen just tinges of it on the odd morning, but there’s not yet been a proper frost, and we can’t remember an autumn of this glory in all the time we’ve been here. Summerhill and Hartford are resplendent in the burgundys, golds, the maizy hues and emerald greens, and the horses are thriving on what’s left of the pre-winter weather.

Of course, for our overseas readers, remember this part of the world celebrates winter in great style, as we have big blue skies virtually from the beginning of April through to mid September, with very little moisture to speak of, and while our evenings are cool, and sometimes below zero, the days are spectacular.

Photos by Nick Goss  

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MUHTAFAL : It gets even hotter...

 

We’ve come to the end of an amazing fortnight for Summerhill, with our runners posting exceptional performances in the KZN Guineas, the East Cape Guineas, the Gomma Gomma Challenge, the Strelitzia Stakes, the Pointsetta Stakes and the Drill Hall Stakes.

Remember these names; Imbongi, Bold Ellinore, Paris Perfect, Thekkady, Catmandu, Imbongi (again) and on Sunday’s card at Scottsville, Hot Reception.

We didn’t think it could get much better after Friday evening’s epic in the Drill Hall at Greyville, but this game has a knack of rolling for you when it does, and it seems every dice we throw right now turns up “six”. In the Poinsetta Stakes (Gr.3,) Muhtafal’s daughter, Hot Reception, part-owned by the farm with Rupert Plersch, Rodney Zeeman, Roger Thorpe looked like an unlikely winner in the face of the stiffest opposition she’d met so far. The field included last year’s Champion Two Year Old, Rat Burana, last year’s filly winner of the S.A. Fillies Sprint (Gr.1), Ethereal Lady, and the multiple Grade One winner, Soft Landing, and the task was made all the more difficult by the fact that the race was run over the course and distance of the S.A. Fillies Sprint (Gr.1), on precisely the same level-weight terms. This meant that Hot Reception had to stretch herself further than what has thus far been considered her optimum trip, and at a considerable disadvantage in handicapping parlance to these three Grade One winners. However she hopped out in great style, relaxed on the lead, and as Brandon Lerena was heard to say in the post-race interview “it’s always difficult to catch a horse with a relaxed lead in these circumstances”.

Her trainer, Herman Brown Jnr, is currently in Singapore, so we’ve not spoken to him yet, but no doubt he has the Grade One S.A.Fillies Sprint in mind for Hot Reception now, and considering that her principal adversaries are likely to number the three just mentioned again, she must be in with an outstanding chance.

This was Muhtafal’s fifth Graded Stakes winner of the season, and Hot Reception was chalking up his 8th Stakes win of the year.

Before we depart the “Muhtafal” scene, its worth noting that, while Hot Reception’s victory was registered over 1200 metres, yet another Muhtafal was doing battle over 2400 metres in the East Cape Derby (Gr.3) as the odds-on choice, and while he didn’t quite get home over the distance, Paris Perfect was gallant in second place, underscoring again that Muhtafal is capable of getting runners beyond 2000 metres every now and then. Veiled Essence counts Gold Circle Oaks among her victories, and he’s had other Oaks-placed fillies in his time. Now he’s had a colt to tell us that 2400m is almost attainable.

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IMBONGI drills them in the Drill Hall Stakes

 

Imbongi (meaning a traditional poet of the Zulu or Xhosa people who composes poetry in praise of a leader) led the ultra competitive Drill Hall Stakes field to a merry dance when he reconfirmed his status as the best 3 year old miler in the country at Greyville on Friday night. He has simply gotten better with each run since being gelded and the son of Russian Revival notched up his third Gr 2 victory in his last four starts when seeing off stablemate Bold Ellinore, outsider Red Flyer and champion Pocket Power over 1400m at Greyville.

Red Flyer was quickest out of the pens and once the field had settled into some semblance of order, had established a clear lead over Something Else with Thunder Key and Imbongi handily placed. Lord Of The Sea and Bold Ellinore were next best with Rebel King on the inside. Floatyourboat and Light Spectrum were further back with Pocket Power, as usual, giving plenty of start and Tropical Empire even further back.

Brandon Lerena made a bold bid for honours in the straight, stealing a march and going some four lengths clear on Red Flyer and almost incredibly, it became clear that not too many of the more vaunted runners in the field were making an impression on him. The exceptions were the Mike de Kock pair of Imbongi and Bold Ellinore who finally collared him inside the final furlong and proceeded to fight out the finish, with Imbongi almost inevitably packing just too much of a finish for the game mare.

This was an impressive performance by Imbongi, who has already established himself as one of the better 3-year-old around and to beat the older horses under these weight-for-age conditions was no mean feat. After Eddington’s victory in Saturday’s Gomma Gomma Challenge, the current generation of sophomores is looking a lot stronger than one might have thought a few months ago and Imbongi is a horse who looks to have plenty of options ahead of him.

Bold Ellinore excelled in defeat as this was a rare appearance outside the female ranks for her and it was no disgrace to be beaten by a horse who is clearly on the upgrade even as she enters the closing phase of her career. She loves this track and thoughts must surely be turning to the Garden Province Stakes on July day.

Imbongi is a 3-year-old gelding by Russian Revival (USA) out of Garden Verse (SAF) by Foveros (GB). Bred by Summerhill Stud, he is owned by Messrs MD Fleischer, OV Leibbrandt, BS Clements RS & BA Napier & Summerhill Stud Syndicate (Nom: M J B Goss).

Winning trainer: Mike de Kock

Extract from SA Horseracing

Race 9 - R300K - DRILL HALL STAKES (Grade 2)
Horses at Weight-For-Age - 1400m

No

Horse

Jockey

Al/Bl

Kg

Dr

Fin

Dist

Time

13

IMBONGI

Anthony Delpech

A -

56.0

9

1

0.00

84.85

14

BOLD ELLINORE

Kevin Shea

A P

55.5

15

2

1.25

85.08

12

RED FLYER

Brandon Lerena *0.0

A -

58.0

4

3

2.75

85.36

1

POCKET POWER

Bernard Fayd’Herbe

A -

58.0

10

4

3.50

85.50

11

TROPICAL EMPIRE (AUS)

Ian Sturgeon

A -

58.0

11

5

3.75

85.55

2

FLOATYOURBOAT

Karl Neisius

A B

58.0

3

6

5.00

85.78

8

HILGROVE

M J Byleveld

A -

58.0

7

7

5.15

85.81

4

REBEL KING

Anton Marcus

A -

58.0

1

8

7.15

86.19

5

APPELATE COURT

Corne Orffer

A -

58.0

13

9

7.90

86.33

10

LORD OF THE SEA

Raymond Danielson

A -

58.0

6

10

8.15

86.38

17

LIGHT SPECTRUM

Sean Cormack

A -

58.0

5

11

8.90

86.53

6

SILVER MIST

Andrew Fortune

A -

58.0

2

12

9.00

86.55

15

OUTCOME

Robbie Hill

A B

55.5

16

13

9.25

86.59

9

THUNDER KEY

Stuart Randolph

A -

58.0

14

14

10.25

86.79

7

SOMETHING ELSE

Gavin Lerena

A B

58.0

8

15

10.50

86.84

3

EQUAL IMAGE (ARG)

Kelvin Jupp

A X

58.0

17

16

25.00

89.73

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HARTFORD HOUSE : Nhlanhla Suite

 

A journey through the suites at Hartford House recently included among the Top Boutique hotels in South Africa.

This week’s focus is on Hartford’s final suite, the Nhlanhla Suite (Suite 16).

Nhlanhla is one of the Zulu language’s most wonderful words. It really means “good luck”, but it also conjures good fortune, happiness, largesse and all the warm feelings we get when life is kind to us. Dubbed Nhlanhla by the Zulus who brighten our lives every day at Hartford, the name recalls the feelings of our team when they first saw Nhlanhla in its finished form. The suite radiates nature, the colours of our environment, warmth and originality, and as much as anything is a signal example of what the creative spirit can achieve from modest, locally sourced materials. The majority of the materials used in the erection of Nhlanhla were harvested off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, and where this was not possible, from our immediate environs.

This suite was the most recent of four comprising the Ezulweni (“in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford House’s colonial origins. The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Nhlanhla.

In contrast to the rustic materials used in the development of the suite, the fine mahogany wardrobe housing the television and mini-bar, was imported to South Africa in the 1820’s and was acquired from a village in the Eastern Free State. The teak floors were rescued from the renovation of Durban’s “grand old dame”, the Edward Hotel, while the Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss when she was overseeing the renovation of what is now Lynton Hall. Internationally acclaimed for her work at Lynton Hall, Cheryl’s introduction of Indian antique furniture to that property recalls its association with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in Colonial Natal.

The copper bath is a creation of a customer of the racehorse stud, Summerhill, while the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!

Nhlanhla has become the suite of choice of His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, ruling monarch of the Mountain Kingdom, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he keeps several horses which feed his and his nation’s passion for the equine species.

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The KZN GUINEAS : A Growing Habit


Over many decades, the old SA Guineas threw up one great horse after another. Indeed, as an event, it has the highest average merit rating among its placed horses of any race for three-year-olds on the South African racing calendar. How’s that for an event which our programmers believe to be worthy of only Grade Two status these days? And Saturday’s outcome more than vindicated the race’s traditional billing, pitting with very few exceptions, the best three-year-old milers in the country against each other.

From a Summerhill perspective, we’ve provided the heroes for the event two years in a row, but in each case we’ve been cast in the role of “giant killers” rather than as the giant himself. Last year, dual Cape Classic winner, JAY PEG, came to Durban in imperious form, having “short-headed” Summerhill graduates EMPEROR NAPOLEON and PICK SIX in each of the Cape Guineas and Cape Derby, only to find a fellow that had grown up in the self same paddock as that formidable duo in DYNAMITE MIKE. “Dynamite” had been lurking on the back of some very solid form, and he came on late to make “easy meat” of the last furlong and the outcome of the race. And we all know now that JAY PEG has since climbed the proverbial mountain to the pinnacle of international success against some of the world’s best “milers” in the $5million Dubai Duty Free (Gr1).

This weekend, up against a considerable challenge including Cape Derby ace, RUSSIAN SAGE, no fewer than five of the sixteen entries (30%) were from Summerhill, and it was IMBONGI that stole the laurels in a pulsating finish to confirm his status as the Nation’s number one miler of the Classic generation. And he was faithfully followed home by PERFECT SEASON, ART OF WAR and a flying THANDOLWAMI (watch him in the Daily News 2000 next month) to make four of the top six off the farm.

cameraClick here to watch video of Imbongi winning the KZN Guineas (Gr2) 2008.

IMBONGI was an unsold graduate of the 2006 Ready To Run. He was subsequently syndicated through the intervention (and intuitive eye) of no less a man than previous Jockey Club Chairman and South Africa’s racing ambassador, Ronnie Napier, and has provided more pleasure for the Napiers, the Fleischer family and Owen Liebbrandt than you’ll ever know.

His half sister, SPRING GARLAND, incidentally won the Gr3 Acacia Handicap just a few weeks ago, and he has a brother (by National Emblem) scheduled for November’s Ready To Run sale.

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STRONGHOLD : When horses win like this, they have a knack of turning heads.

 

For several years now, Summerhill boss Mick Goss, has made it part of his regular sermon to chide South Africans for the fact that we seem to have missed the Danehill “boat”. The top end of stallion logs in other parts of both the northern and southern hemispheres are clogged with high-achieving sons of the world’s greatest modern stallion phenomenon, and it seems they can’t get enough of Danehill.

The fires in the north are being fuelled by the lofty achievements of Dansili, the Juddmonte flagbearer, and Coolmore’s Rock Of Gibraltar, while the rollcall of breeders who’ve clamoured to the court of their new recruit, Dylan Thomas this season, reads like the “who’s who” of European breeding. In the south, Danehill and his sons occupied a staggering six of the top ten positions on the Australian premiership last season, and they’re riding the crest of the wave again in 2008.

How then do we explain that in South Africa there are no more than four Graded stakes winning sons of history’s only stallion to have won championships in both the northern and southern hemispheres? And so Goss’ sermon goes on, to the point of it sounding like a “stuck” record.

Emphasizing the point, Summerhill has just put its hands on another Danehill, taking their tally on the farm to three (remember, they also imported Requiem, who has gotten off to such a good start with his first crop, and now stands at Klawervlei Stud). This one comes in the shape of Stronghold, one of the world’s last remaining Graded stakes winning Danehills, and a horse who boasts a Timeform rating of 120 pounds. That’s not the end of Stronghold, though.

He was Timeform’s Champion Handicapper of 2006; he’s a multiple Group and Listed Stakes winner from six furlongs to a mile; he’s out of a Royal Ascot Stakes winning daughter of Mr. Prospector, and his Granddam is a Group One winner by Riverman.

Discovered by Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager, Angus Gold, as a young two year old on John Gosden’s Manton gallops three years ago, the Summerhill team has maintained a beady eye on this horse ever since, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t fulfill his trainer’s prophecy that he was a Group One winner in waiting. Victory in a Group One would almost certainly have consigned him to a place at Prince Khalid Abullah’s famous Juddmonte nursery at Newmarket, alongside the exceptional Dansili and his Arc winning son, Rail Link.

But events conspired against these plans. Stronghold was operated on after serious injury as the favourite for the 2006 renewal of the Challenge Stakes, and his sole outing in 2007 resulted in a narrow loss to triple Group One winner Red Evie, when he went down in the dying strides of the Hungerford Stakes (Gr.2) after an eleven month lay-off. This was high-class form in itself, but seen from the perspective that he had been off for so long and suffered a career-ending injury in the process, it was quite remarkable.

Angus Gold has always rated him the best looking son of Danehill known to him, and when he introduced the horse to Mick Goss as a two year old, they both resolved never to let him out of their sights.

This week Summerhill consummated the deal to acquire him, and while it did not go quite as they would have liked with full ownership, it’s a compliment to the horse that Prince Khalid insisted on maintaining a five share interest. His reasoning was that he has only two serious sons of Danehill left in his armoury, the other being Dansili’s full brother Champs Elysées, and it was his retention of five breeding rights in Danehill that has made Juddmonte one of the greatest private breeding establishments in the world in the past decade. The Prince’s reasoning is simple: if Stronghold emulates his father’s achievements at stud, he wants to be part of the action. He arrives at the Midlands nursery in mid May as the property of the farm and a partnership comprising Dubai and German investors, as well as the enterprising Peter Yip’s Hong Kong Breeders Club, which already has a slice of the Way West cake.

Together with their other new acquisition, Mullins Bay, Stronghold will be unveiled to breeders at what the popular press have dubbed “Racing’s Best Day Out”, the Summerhill Stallion Show on the first Sunday in July.

Click here to view Summerhill Stallions.


Extract by Charl Pretorius – Freeracer.co.za

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HARTFORD HOUSE : Siyabonga Suite

 

A journey through the suites at Hartford House recently included among the Top Boutique hotels in South Africa.

This week’s choice of suite is the Siyabonga Suite (Suite 15).

In Zulu the word Siyabonga means “we are grateful” or “give thanks to”, and this suite is part of the Ezulweni (meaning “in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford’s own colonial styled origins. The suite was named that way by our Zulu building team once complete, as much echoing their own relief at having accomplished what was for them in the nature of something unique in architectural style, as it was for the natural beauty and ambience which the suite exudes.

Built with materials harvested largely off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or otherwise acquired in the near vicinity, Siyabonga is characterized by its collection of African artifacts and its stunning sleeping quarters, clad in local Drakensberg sandstone. The bathroom features romantically aligned twin tubs, and the suite is rendered with a combination of mud and locally harvested river pebbles, all of which has withstood the ravages of our summer thunderstorms and occasional winter snowfalls with surprising resilience. The Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss while she was overseeing the renovation of Lynton Hall, which she decorated in Colonial antiques, recalling the arrival of Indian indentured labour for the colony’s fledging sugar industry.

In recent times, Siyabonga has become the suite of choice of His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed of the Ruling Family of Dubai, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he stands several stallions and mares of world renown. Another visitor of fame whose name has become embedded in the lore of Siyabonga, is Angus Gold, a celebrated reveller, who is also associated with the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Siyabonga.

In contrast to the natural materials with which the suite was erected, the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!

Click here for more Siyabonga Suite information

Click here to visit Hartford House

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Art Of War, Umngazi, Imbongi, Thandolwami

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