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Russian Revival



Hear The Drums South African Horseracing Record
Hear The Drums South African Horseracing Record

Click above to remember Hear The Drums’ historic SA record-breaking run…

(Photo : Walley Strydom - Footage : Tellytrack)

Imbongi, Paris Perfect, Vangelis

and Hear The Drums

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

Mick Goss

Summerhill Stud CEOIn the annals of the Summerhill story, no year was more definitive than 2004. As recently as 1999 we’d had to endure the dispersal of most of the farm’s breeding stock when the partnerships we had concluded 10 years before, matured. There were just 26 mares left, and we had to start from “ground zero.” It’s a measure of the determination and the enterprise of an extraordinary team, that within 5 years we came within one race of winning the 2004 Breeders Championship and for the first time since the early 1950s, when the Ellis’ of Hartford gave the Birch brothers a rev for the national title, a farm on this side of the Drakensberg gave notice of its intent as a serious player in the breeding industry. Another extraordinary thing happened in 2004; four unwanted urchins of the sales ring played the male equivalent of Cinderella, converting themselves from pumpkin status into golden carriages.

It is part of the allure of our game that these things can happen, and it’s part of the dream of those with limited means that they should get their hands on prospects like these. Imbongi went to two sales, the Nationals and the Ready To Run, and was led out unsold at both. A lifetime of racing and an eye for a decent horse, led Ronnie Napier and and old mate, Michael Fleischer, to latch onto half of him one Saturday morning at the farm gallops, and soon enough he was the champion three-year old miler of his generation. His globe-trotting career in England, Dubai and Hong Kong, saw him garner group races in most of those jurisdictions, and in the final piece of glory, he picked up $500,000 in the Dubai Duty Free Group One.

Another with international aspirations was Paris Perfect, for whom there was no commercial home off the farm. That meant that his breeder, Gail Fabricius and her husband, Peter, found for themselves not only a third consecutive East Cape Horse Of The Year, but they had their big payday when cashing him in to Saudi royals, before he became the first South African horse to earn a cheque in the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup Group One. R60,000 would have got the job done on the farm, yet his paycheque for the World Cup alone was in excess of $US1 million (R8.5million at yesterday’s exchange rate).

In the same year, a Kahal colt bred on the revered cross with a Northern Guest mare, was neglected by all and sundry because of a niggling shoulder injury. It took a man of Robert Muir’s intrepid speculative instincts to pick up half of him. Vangelis went on to win thirteen races, and with his premiums, rewarded us by becoming a millionaire at the races. Rightfully, this willing servant has earned his place in retirement, as my daughter Bronwyn’s constant riding companion.

To cap it all, another erstwhile paddock mate, Hear The Drums, also born in 2004, returned to the farm this past week. Until Hear The Drums went to the races, the title of winningmost racehorse in South Africa, was held by a former Hartford graduate, Sentinel (32 wins), but it’s a sign of the value of good land, good people and a good upbringing, that Hear The Drums, took his owner, Peter Fabricius and his trainer, Des McLachlan, to that most valuable piece of real estate in racing, the winner’s enclosure, on no fewer than 35 occasions. It’s worth recalling that Peter Fabricius bought Hear The Drums on an impulsive whim on the telephone, when there were just two lots left in the sale, and he was all we had to recommend. It’s an irony of the game, that if Peter had seen his legs, he probably would not have made the purchase. Hear The Drums was however, one of those that defied God’s engineering, that overcame the purest antipathy towards racehorses imperfections, and his guts, courage and that indefinable characteristic that belongs to the great ones, carried him through.

So this man, who passed through three sales rings, before he found an owner for a paltry R42,000, retires as the most prolific winner in South Africa’s glorious racing history. In his next life, he will join other former champions; Senor Santa and Amphitheatre as a baby sitter and mentor in matters of decorum to our yearlings on the farm. What a privilege to have been associated with these men, all born in the same year and raised beside each other in the same paddocks. Between them they amassed more than R17million in earnings, a record of excellence unlikely to have been matched on any one farm in history.

summerhill stud, south africa
summerhill stud, south africa




Russian Revival Stallion
Russian Revival Stallion

Russian Revival

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)


Some years ago, in an attempt to uplift the flagging fortunes of Kenyan racing and breeding, Mick Goss took a delegation of our racing operators to Kenya. The outcome was an arrangement which saw the donation of tote equipment, on course cameras, a flighting of the Kenyan racing signal through Tellytrack, a reorganisation of their business model, and the placement of several stallions with Jo and Janet Mills’ Rawhide Stud.

One of the most recent of these was the highly performed Nureyev racehorse, Russian Revival (Timeform’s Champion Handicapper of his year), and sire of last year’s Dubai Carnival victor ludorum, Imbongi. Last weekend, the first of the Kenyan “Russians”, Viola, made her racecourse debut, and by all accounts, it was some performance. It is early days yet, but an easing-down margin of eight lengths tells its own story.

Imagine what a single Imbongi could do for the international image of Kenyan racing. There might be another reason to visit besides the Masai Mara.



vangelis horse and robert muir
vangelis horse and robert muir

Vangelis and Robert Muir

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)


Some years ago we arrived at work on an early October morning to the news of the arrival of a lovely big colt, bred on what is now one of the most revered crosses in South African breeding, Kahal on a Northern Guest mare. This fellow was out of a Group placed sister to Equus Champion, Travel North, and so his pedigree was deep enough to suggest that he might be good, and the specimen reinforced our hopes.

But this is a game, as we all know, which can sometimes test not only your patience, but the outer extremities of one’s resilience, and the colt went dead lame on us for more than a year shortly after he was weaned. In fact, the conventional wisdom among the veterinary community, even those with the “big” equipment in Pretoria, was that he was unlikely to test the judge at any racecourse, let alone get to hear the roar of the crowd.

Vangelis by name, we eventually decided to give him a go, and pretty much since the day we sent him to the Hartford tracks, he’s screamed at us as one we could reckon with. Earlier this week, he came home lonely for the ninth time in his life, which gives him a 50% hit rate in terms of victories to starts. He’s only missed a cheque on two or three occasions, and he’s thrilled us all, as anything because of his great triumph over what seemed to be impossible odds.

Summerhill’s partner in this horse is the well-known American owner, Robert Muir, who happened to take up 50% in the horse from the estate of the late Colly Fram, who was responsible for the location of National Emblem to Summerhilll when he first retired to stud. On that same visit to the farm, Robert was offered another half interest in a bright chestnut son of Russian Revival, but we suspect he thought he was becoming the victim of some smart salesmanship! After mulling it over, and hearing the advice of some who would damn him, Robert was advised to give Russian Revival a wide berth.

That fellow turned out to be Imbongi, Champion Three-Year-Old Miler of his year and winner of the biggest race of that particular weekend in England a month ago. Robert’s had more than his fair share of luck in this game though, his C.V. as an owner replete in big names like: The Sheik, Cataloochee, Ravishing and Candidato Roy. Having said that, it would have been quite nice though ………!


High Praise for IMBONGI

bayete imbongi
bayete imbongi

Please click above to watch video

(Footage : YouTube)

“Let’s all sing Imbongi’s praises”

Extract from The Times

The GeeGees : Mike Moon

It’s ironic that a horse called Imbongi has been one of the least ballyhooed of South Africa’s growing band of equine exports – especially as he’s quite possibly the best of them.

An imbongi is, of course, a praise singer in Zulu and Xhosa culture – the guy in traditional gear who heralds the arrival of an important leader on grand occasions. Whistling and waving sticks, the imbongi yells out the achievements and virtues of the approaching big cheese.

We used to love it so when President Mandela’s imbongi did his thing, affirming our devotion to Madiba and his deeds.

Praise singing of our high and mighty has lost its spark. Perhaps it’s due to post-’94-miracle cynicism. It can’t be that we don’t believe the big shots have any virtues. Surely not.

The most excitement generated by an Imbongi of late has been among the British racing establishment.

The horse from Mooi River has only raced twice in the UK, yet this week the respected Timeform agency gave him a lofty rating of 121.

This places Imbongi among the top half percent of horses racing in the world today.

There’s talk of jetting him across the Atlantic to Chicago in a fortnight’s time for a shot at the prestigious Arlington Million.

This is far removed from the sorry sight at a thoroughbred auction in Germiston 18 months ago when the young Imbongi left the sale ring in ignominy after failing to attract a bid from the assembled clever clogs of South African racing.

He went home to Summerhill Stud in the Midlands where champion breeder Mick Goss – a truly clever chap who’d loved the colt from day one – put him into race training in hope that he’d eventually make it to a track.

Summerhill had thought out Imbongi’s pedigree carefully, mating sire Russian Revival (Timeform 125) to a daughter of another world-class racehorse, Foveros (120). For lineage anoraks: the Northern Dancer (Russian Revival’s grandsire) cross with a Teddy line mare had produced the legendary Nijinsky.

Imbongi is proof that sometimes a plan comes together.

Racing doyen Ronnie Napiervisited Summerhill, took a shine to Imbongi, and formed an owner partnership with the stud farm and a few other friends.

It was all the encouragement Imbongi needed. Winning both the Gauteng Guineas and KZN Guineas, and whipping Pocket Power in the Drill Hall Stakes, he became the best middle distance horse of his generation.

Sheikh Khalifa of Dubai bought in and it was off overseas.

After scooting to victory in a grade 3 event at Newmarket, Imbongi ran a close-up third in a grade 2 at Ascot. The latter race was described as the best mile form in the world this year and Timeform passed judgment.

The chestnut with the handsome head is finally being taken seriously. Time to start yelling.

Aforementioned Pocket Power might also race overseas soon. But first the great one has a date at Clairwood in the Champions Cup today – and will surely atone for his fiasco of a run in the Durban July.

john bovington memorial criterion stakes video
john bovington memorial criterion stakes video
ascot summer mile audio
ascot summer mile audio

Click above to experience Imbongi’s last two runs in the

John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes and Ascot Summer Mile Stakes



Summer Mile Stakes - Race Commentary

summerhill radio
summerhill radio Summer Mile Stakes G2

Ascot, UK

11 July 2009

GBP 100,000

1st Aqlaam

2nd Confront

3rd Imbongi (Russian Revival x Garden Verse)

Jockey : Kevin Shea

Trainer : Mike de Kock

Breeder : Summerhill Stud

Owners : Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum

Michael Fleischer

Summerhill Syndicate

Owen Liebrandt

Barry Clements

Ronnie Napier

aqlaam confront imbongi
aqlaam confront imbongi



The Revival of the Russian : The Kenyan's Delight

Russian RevivalRussian Revival (John Lewis)His recent export to Kenya, where he stands under the management of Summerhill at that country’s leading stud, Rawhide, Russian Revival will no doubt have brought a big smile to Kenyan breeders following this weekend’s events. Not only did he sire Imbongi and Red Carnation, but his daughter Wild Ride was equally impressive in making it two in a row on Sunday at Clairwood for Gilbert Werner. This filly has run two seconds and two firsts from four starts to date, with daylight to spare in a respectable field of fillies, she looks set for a “Black Type” career down the road.

As Mike de Kock commented on the phone afterwards, they only have to die or get themselves exported to come alive, and that’s precisely what’s happened to Russian Revival. Our loss is Kenya’s gain.



Week after week after week...

The victories of FAIR BRUTUS (by MUHTAFAL) and MOSCOW RISING (by RUSSIAN REVIVAL) in both the nation’s Graded Stakes contests marked the third consecutive weekend on which the Feature events have fallen to Summerhill connections.

fair brutusFair Brutus

moscow risingMoscow RisingThree weekends back, EVENING ATTIRE (by KAHAL) was a deserving winner of the big Fillies sprint, while REGAL RUNNER (MUHTAFAL) staked his claim to the mantle of best juvenile colt seen out thus far when he took the Storm Bird Stakes (Listed) in grand style from Devine Jury’s own brother, Judge Jupiter (a R900 000 purchase). This was the third consecutive year a Summerhill-bred had nabbed the Storm Bird.

A fortnight has passed since the Drum Star Handicap (Listed) threw up a Summerhill exacta, as the veteran HIS LORDSHIP (RAMBO DANCER) and BAYETE (also RAMBO) led a field including four Grade One winners, a merry dance at Turfontein.

As if our stallions hadn’t already made enough of a statement, both South Africa’s top events of this past Saturday and Sunday, the Senor Santor (Gr2) and the King’s Cup (Gr3), fell to horses whose lives began in the Farm’s stallion barn. FAIR BRUTUS was bred by ex-Summerhill team member, Lorraine de Klerk and husband Koos, while MOSCOW RISING was bred by Charles Laird’s assistant, Debbie le Roux, from a Northern Guest mare. He was part of our National Sales consignment and fetched a modest R40 000 when sold to his present connections. Now that’s a bargain for you!




Big races, big names

The names were up in lights again last weekend:

Thunder Key (MUHTAFAL) 3rd in the Gr 1 Cape Flying  Champion Stakes

Evening Attire (KAHAL) carrying top weight of 62 kg second with Lady Red (RUSSIAN REVIVAL) 3rd in the Swallow Stakes [LISTED].

Meanwhile it was 1-2-3 for VUMA feds in the Gr 1 Cape Flying Champion Stakes … you can’t beat that !  



Where is your mare heading this year?

Here’s just a taste of what is on the menu:


Muhtafal:  sire of 2006 Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint winner Let’s Rock ‘n Roll, following the Gr1 Mercury Sprint winner Disappear in 2005.

Albarahin: His first crop of 2yo’s have rocketed this freshman to the top of the ladder.

Kahal: Bold Ellinore, Evening Attire, Majestic Sun and Looks Like Trouble are just some of the names carrying ‘Kahal’ on their sire side in 2006. 

And don’t forget Deep Sleep (triple stakes winner of more than R1.2m), Lavery (G1 winning 2yo), Malhub (Defeated the cream of Europe’s sprinters in the Golden Jubilee Stakes (Gr 1) at Royal Ascot, including World Champion Juvenile, JOHANNESBURG and first or second in four Group Ones in 2002, and never more than a 1/2 length behind in any of them), Russian Revival (Winner of seven races and almost R8 million and Timeform’s champion handicapper of 1999. Yearlings have sold up to R320,000) and Slew The Red (15 starts from 2 to 5 years, 13 cheques).


Solskjaer: Currently the highest ranking son of Danehill in South Africa with a Timeform rating of 120lbs.  The immaculately bred  son of Danehill is one of three Group winners from his dam including Yeats, winner of last year ’s Coronation Cup (Gr.1) in England. Equipped with an imposing physique and being a Stakes winner from a mile to 10 furlongs, he is well suited to the local breeding scene, with the added advantage of being one of very few high performing sons of Danehill in South Africa.

Way West:  This boy had speed to burn, winning the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude which immediately saw him regarded as one of the top two or three juveniles in Australia at that time.  Judged by the Australian veterninary icon, Dr. Percy Sykes, as the perfect model of a yearling, like the highly successful stallion Flying Spur, Way West is a son of Danehill out of a Mr. Prospector mare.  His granddam was the winner of three Grade One races, and is a sister to the Melbourne Cup hero, At Talaq.   Way West offers the wondrous combination of juvenile precocity and exceptional conformation, combined with the best sire line in the world.

Contact Linda Norval today on 27 33 263 1314 for further details and to discuss your particular requirements.