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Equine Technology

News from Afar : A Darley Flying Start Graduate at Work

stallion dansiliDansili
(Photo : Juddmonte)

South Africa’s Kevin Sommerville writes:

Work at Juddmonte is going really well. If you’re interested in horses this is a pretty fantastic place to be, surrounded by the likes of Dansili, Cacique, Rail Link, Zamindar and Oasis Dream. It is however the broodmare band that everybody drool’s over, Hasili (dam of 5 Gr.1 winners), Toussaud (Dam of 4) and the runners Heat Haze (Gr.1), Intercontinental (Gr.1), Banks Hill (Gr.1) and many many others.

As the weather has been pretty awful I haven’t been out the office much but come the summer I’ll be visiting all the foals of our stallions all over Europe. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see some spectacular farms as well as to meet some wonderful owners and managers.

I’ll be heavily involved at the sales come October and December next year and I’m looking forward to that. They seem to do things rather different over here; we have our top 3 stallions booked up already, on average about 120 mares! Dansili will once again cover a phenomenal book of mares! He could very well be the best sire son of Danehill in the future. His figures are phenomenal from very inferior mares! Keep an eye on him!

The Industry over here has received a heavy blow to the ribs (bit like the Aussies). Overproduction and a lack of prize money are a major concern. Issues not easily solved.

Juddmonte however sits in a pretty situation but still it’s hitting everybody hard! A major rethink of the industry is required.

This is probably not much info for the blog but as the weather improves; I’ll be getting out more which will be fantastic and I’ll have a few more stories as the year goes on.

Have a wonderful 2009.

Kevin

FAMILY BUILDING : Don't ever shut the door

stallion albarahinSire of Mystic, Albarahin
(Photo : John Lewis)

The outcome of Thursday’s main event at the Vaal was a timely reminder that us breeders often appear to have a short-sighted vision, driven no doubt by the commercial imperatives of the desire to cull. All too soon, we’re often guilty of prejudging a family’s destiny, based most times on a perception of the saleability of a mare’s progeny. The result is, by the time the subject mare has had as few as three or four foals, and the commercial returns have not quite met expectations, we quickly resort to the chopping block, forgetting just as suddenly, all the good reasons for the mare’s acquisition in the first place.

Mystic’s lightening closure for victory in the 7th on Thursday; recalled the value of patience and the underlying purpose of family-building. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating; at Summerhill our mating policies are not driven by commercial outcomes alone. Truth is, they never enter our thoughts. Rather, we prefer the process of trying to breed a racehorse first, and then trusting the market to respect the result by paying a fair price for the progeny.

While there is a possibility this policy can cost you in the sales ring to a certain degree, there is little doubt of its contribution to the respect you earn when you breed a Champion.

Returning to Mystic, he’s a son of a bread-and-butter stallion (Albarahin), out of a mare (Vanish, by Coastal) who herself was the subject of some derision as a foal and as a weanling, when some of our number at the time doubted her value as a prospective runner, let alone a broodmare. But we’d ventured this far for a reason, and Vanish’s dam, the Lyphard mare Cahard, like her own sire, (a diminutive, natty little model of a horse,) had been bought out of the memorable Nelson Bunker Hunt dispersal, with the long road in mind. Here she was, producing an equally diminutive result, (notwithstanding Coastal’s 16.1 ½ h.h,) in the effort to get something with range and scope.

Vanish was spared the “knackers” and leased to an erstwhile customer of Summerhill, Brian Burgess, where she displayed the lion-heart at the races, accumulating four victories in fairly competitive company, despite her “tinyness”. The rest is of course, a matter of history.

Besides Mystic, she’s produced 100% winners from runners, including the 9 time Group One winner Disappear, who was the first to get the ball rolling in what has become a celebrated affair between Muhtafal and Coastal mares.

So where is the parable? Breeding is a long term process and it demands endless patience. The reality though, is that with few exceptions, with the benefit of judicious selection, quality stockmanship and proper husbandry, you can get a respectable response from most mares and we’re reminded at this time of a conversation we shared with Lionel Cohen a few years back on this topic. You see, we’ve a common thread with Lionel on this score, and in a discussion about flawed physical specimens in the broodmare population, he simply said “we can always breed this out, can’t we?” Applying this principle, the rare likes of Lionel have produced one good horse after another for so long now, no-one can gainsay the weight that accrues from great stockmanship.

LEADING SIRES OF 2008

sadlers wellsSadler’s Wells
(Coolchaser/b2yor)

Northern Hemisphere GRADE/GROUP 1 WINNERS

STALLION SIRE LOCATION WINNERS
Galileo Sadler’s Wells
IRE
5
Giant’s Causeway Storm Cat
KY
5
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill 
IRE
4
Danehill Danzig
DEAD
4
Tiznow Cee’s Tizzy
KY
4
Kingmambo Mr. Prospector           
KY
3
Maria’s Mon Wavering Monarch
DEAD
3
Sadler’s Wells Northern Dancer
IRE
3
Street Cry Machiavellian 
KY
3
Unbridled’s Song Unbridled
KY
3
A.P. Indy Seattle Slew
KY
2
Chester House Mr. Prospector
DEAD
2
Dalakhani Darshaan
IRE
2
Danehill Dancer Danehill
IRE
2
Doneraile Court Seattle Slew 
KY
2
Dynaformer Roberto
KY
2
Gone West Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Indian Ridge Ahonoora
IRE
2
Montjeu Sadler’s Wells 
IRE
2
Muhtathir Elmaamul
FR
2
Nayef Gulch
ENG
2
Pivotal Polar Falcon
ENG
2
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill
IRE
2
Samum Monsun
GER
2
Smart Strike Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Tapit Pulpit
KY
2


Statistics from Thoroughbred Daily News

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The Origins of Talent

greig and devon and james muirGreig Muir with twins Devon and James at Giant’s Castle

Nature plays a primary role in nurturing youth to achieve success and we have been privileged to witness the arrival and growth of a new crop of youngsters this year, many of whom are about to take a “big step out” on their own as they are weaned from their mothers to become individuals. Mother Nature herself will continue to shape their futures, providing them with rigorous challenges along the way, as they are molded into champions to follow the previous generations on the turf.

Summerhill’s nurturing role in nature has existed for over a century and can largely be attributed to the foresight of the last Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Colony of Natal before Union, Sir Frederick Moor and Colonel Richards, whose agricultural principles established what was to become NCD Dairies and the Eskort Bacon factory, which today represent the biggest dairy and meat processing businesses on the Continent of Africa. The intensification and expansion of modern day farming practices threatened the biodiversity of the farm and Summerhill’s allegiance to organic farming practices has reaped rewards. Colonel Richards established a historically famous herd of cattle on Summerhill and today the same breed of cattle has achieved awards at provincial level. From the 40’s, the all conquering Ellis silks carried off every major prize on the South African Racing Calendar, whilst today internationally renowned homebreds have earned four consecutive Champion Breeders awards for the farm, as Seth Hancock once said “these are the kind of stories that stir the imagination”

The natural environment that is Summerhill provides the ideal holistic nursery for growing stock; it also provides a home for a stallion barn which is the showcase for some of the finest thoroughbreds in the southern hemisphere. Stallion manager Greig Muir arrived in South Africa almost a quarter of a century ago, and reminiscent of Seth Hancock’s line, he married childhood friend Michele and took up accommodation in what was Colonel Richards stockman’s house, soon to be christened “the Convent”, under which roof twins James and Devon were born. From the Colonels stately homestead itself, did their education commence in an environment perfect for developing youth and enquiring minds; it culminated in the achievement of Academic Colours at the close of their 10th year at Treverton College this year. Congratulations to James and Devon on the attainment this award.

All great pedigree pundits argue the origin of talent, be it the “get” of the sire or dam, Lady Josephine or Pocahontas, we all must remind ourselves that less than 2% of stallions make great sires, either way, congratulations must go to the proud parents as well.

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THE TAPESTRY OF LIFE: Always Rich in the Silly Season

richard haynes and mick gossRichard Haynes and Mick Goss

It’s one of the great pleasures of working at Summerhill that our lives are brightened by the regular visits of people from all over the world. Those that read these columns will remember that on Stallion Day this year, we were honoured by the attendance of people from 14 different nations, and while that’s probably a record of its own for any one day, it’s a fact of life here that we have people from all corners of the globe calling on us at different times of the year.

Linda Norval and her cohorts entertain people every day of the year (yes, somehow Christmas and Good Friday included) at the Summerhill Visitor’s complex, and often enough, a visit includes at least tea, if not a fine lunch.

Many of these people stay over, enjoying the wonders of Hartford House, and soaking up the atmosphere of an authentic African farm. At lunch earlier in the week, we had our long-time friend, Wayne Aldridge from Sydney (Wayne was the founder of the Equine Insurance Group when it previously traded as Delta Bloodstock), Richard Haynes from New Zealand Bloodstock, Dick and Anne Pemberton from East England, while the evening before we hosted South Africa’s favourite investor, Jim Hay’s English trainer Tom Tate and his lovely wife Hazel. Tom is a past trainer representative in the UK on the British Horseracing Board. For the record, Hazel, a talented trainer in her own right, is the sister of Michael Dickinson, the only man to saddle the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and both of them descend from one of England’s most famous dynasties.

Last Tuesday we were on duty again with Peter and Alison Brown, breeders of Outcome (crowned Champion Filly at the KZN Breeding Awards last weekend), ex CNA boss, Ian Outram and his wife Deidre, and Tony and Dale Feasey, buyers of last year’s top lot at the Ready To Run sale.

Just a few days ago, we were honoured with a visit by two legends of Australia, Antony Thompson of the spectacularly famous Widden Stud (at the top end of the Hunter Valley), and fourth generation success, John Kelly of the celebrated Newhaven Park Stud, where the likes of Wilkes, Luscan Star and Marauding made their names as the resident sires.

Students of the breeding game will tell you that there are very few farms anywhere that have survived successfully for more than three generations, yet Australia seems to be the gleaming exception, certainly in the case of these two properties.

Antony and John were here as ambassadors of Aushorse, the marketing arm of the Australian TBA, where Antony is the successor to John Messara as chairman, and John serves on the board of directors. We’re always honoured when men of this calibre visit us, and we always feel the wealthier (and indeed, smarter) for what they leave behind.

(Photo kindly supplied by Richard Haynes)

VETERAN STALLIONS: Worth a second look

stallion sunset (michael nefdt)Summerhill Sunset
(Summerhill Stud)

Andrew Caulfield writes in the Thoroughbred Daily News that to say it is going to be fascinating to see how the Thoroughbred industry responds to the spreading recession sounds a bit too gleeful, when experience has taught us that there are going to be casualties, both human and equine, as production is cut back. But experience has also taught us that the industry will be fitter and leaner, and consequently healthier, when the economy inevitably starts to rally.

The question is how best to survive until that happens - hopefully not too far into the future. Although it may be stating the obvious, breeders are going to have to ensure they obtain the best value for money or biggest bang for their buck, to use a more colorful expression.

One area worthy of consideration - especially for the owner/breeder - is whether the hot new stallion is as safe a bet as a less fashionable stallion with a proven track record. The stallions I am thinking of in the latter category are those which have reached veteran status (aged more than 20). Because of their age - and what could be termed the boredom factor - these stallions are rarely as busy as they were in their heyday, when they achieved so much that they earned a lifelong place in the industry.

The Power of the Positive

positive

It’s been a helluva year for Summerhill. New records at the races, new benchmarks for the trade, and a brand new Breeder’s Championship, for the fourth consecutive year. You’d think we’d be quite pleased with ourselves, and we’d be kidding if we didn’t admit to feeling a bit lucky.

Yet this is the time to give credit where credit is due. As a business, we‘re more dependent on people than most. Mainly because we started with nothing, and without relationships, we’d have ended with nothing. We owe everything to the people around us. Our customers, those that keep their horses with us, and those that support our sales. Our suppliers, our advisers, our bankers. Our trainers, our jockeys, our agents. Those that promote our sport in the media, and the fellows that lay on the show. The fans in the stands, and the punters at the rail. To our colleagues, the breeders, who kept us at our game, and played it the way it should be. Thank you. We re proud to call you our friends.


And then finally, to our own team, and the horses they’ve raised. You’ve set new standards in the way things are done. Encore for your dedication, your integrity and your decency, and as much as anything, your ingenuity. You’re the reason we get up in the mornings.

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For the record : THE KZN BREEDERS AWARDS

kzn breeders awardsTeam Summerhill
(Photo : Gold Circle)

Anything we ever achieve at Summerhill is always the product of many people’s contributions, and in this case, as we’ve so often said before, we must start by remembering that we work with one of the best teams in the world. Besides the expertise of those who’ve had the opportunity to work abroad at the management level, there are those among our Zulus, from the people who clean the stables all the way to the upper echelons of those who make the place tick, that have had their hands in this scrum. It’s an appropriate time then, to remember we’re privileged to work with the Zulus here, some of the most gifted stockmen in the world. Their contribution has been immense.

Besides, there’s hardly a horse bred on this farm that doesn’t involve co-ownership, and so we must congratulate all of those people that were associated with the breeding and raising of Friday night’s winners, either in partnership or on their own. Here we mention the names of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; the late Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum; Mike and Marty Meredith; Peter Brown, Dr Barry and Liz Clements, Robert Lynch, Stephen Gill and Angus Gold. All of them had a hand in these achievements, and our guys are standing at attention acknowledging their part.

Sprinter of the Year – Rebel King

KZN Stallion of the Year – Muhtafal

Stayer of the Year – Galant Gagnant

Breeding Achievement of the Year – Summerhill Stud

Three Year Old Colt – Imbongi

Stallion Prospect – Labeeb

Middle Distance Female – Outcome

Outstanding Older Female - Outcome


Well done.

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SUMMERHILL AND HARTFORD : A Double Celebration

chef jackie cameronHartford House Head Chef Jackie Cameron
(Patrick Royal/Hartford House)

As weekends go, and with a history of almost a century of achievement involving the Summerhill and Hartford properties, this one will take some beating. On Friday evening, 26 of our team attended the KZN Breeders Awards, and while you might say that having won a national Breeders’ Championship for the fourth time, this is just “small beer’ the truth is, very little beats recognition by your own peers, and the eight prizes awarded to our various Champions mean just as much this year as they did the first time we marched up to the stage almost thirty years ago.

So much for Friday. Sunday evening in Cape Town, our pride and joy, Hartford House, was recognised for an extraordinary achievement. The restaurant made the top ten in the nation, and significantly, it was the only one in KZN to receive this accolade. Embracing as this competition does, every restaurant in South Africa in all categories, this is one of those very rare achievements, particularly when you consider where we are : ten kilometres outside of the dustiest little dorp in the Midlands, at the southern most tip of what the civilized world likes to call the darkest continent, and yet, for the past six or seven years, Pietermaritzburg-bred and raised Jackie Cameron, a waif of just 26 years old, and her team have marched all the way to this very select podium. But it’s not only in the company that they’ve joined in receiving this recognition, it’s also in the quality of those that didn’t quite make the cut, that you begin to realise the immensity of what they’ve accomplished.

For all that, Jackie Cameron will be the first to acknowledge that she’s galvanised a great team around her, not only in the kitchen but in the front of house, and it’s the sum of all these things, and the wonderful ambiance of old Hartford that has brought together an irresistible combination. Putting all of this into context, we should recall the other “victories” which this little team has gained in recent years.

When Jackie Cameron joined us some seven years ago, she was just out of cookery school, yet she was old enough even then to recognise the need to train the people around her, in particular those from the previously disadvantaged community. Instantly, she recruited two ladies who’d been serving as casual cleaners in the horse operation, and taught them to clean dishes. She then taught them to clean vegetables, to make bread and then to cook, pretty much in that order, and three years ago, a third generation Zulu lady with only six years of education behind her, accompanied Jackie Cameron to a world culinary exhibition in Zurich as South Africa’s representative. Just last year, another, with only five years at school, made it to a similar exhibition in Prague, while our Zulu Traditional Dancing team, who’d never set foot beyond the confines of Mooi River ten years ago, made it to the World Championship in Tokyo in 2006, where they finished third.

Last year, in Hong Kong, they finished second in the world, and they’ll be on their way shortly to the United States to go and lift the world crown. Wonderful stories about a wonderful part of the world.

From one champion team to another, we salute you Hartford House!

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SOUTH AFRICA : Unshakeable, Untameable, Unbeatable

south_africa

“Click image above to view full screen”

As the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale approached, we repeatedly spoke of our unshakeable belief in the courage and foresight of our fellow South Africans.

There were many who might’ve felt we were overly optimistic. But overcoming adversity is not new to our countrymen. We’ve had to deal with major crises in the past, and we know what it takes.

While the outcome of the Sale exceeded our expectations, it was just another great case of South Africa at work. People looking forward, knowing that next year is next year, that there’ll still be Julys, Mets and Summer Cups to be won.

People with vision, with guts and a love of our game. Like few others anywhere.

Racing people appreciating good horses, fine horsemanship and relishing the challenge. For the lion’s share of the spoils at next year’s “Emperors Cup”. For a million and a half.

So from the Number One Farm in South Africa to the Number One Nation on Earth, Thank You.

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JUDGEMENT DAY: PILATE PRONOUNCES

tobie_spies_john_kramerTobie Spies and John Kramer
(Photo : Grant Norval)

In the life of any racehorse breeding establishment, the judging of a farm’s stock by independent experts is always a signal event. Wednesday was such a day.

Every producer has a different approach to the way he raises his horses, and it’s a well-documented fact that at Summerhill, more than most, Mother Nature plays a primary role. While some have been preparing their horses for this event for several months now, our way is to leave them out in our “organic” environment for as long as possible, avoiding the stress of incarceration and human intervention, and asking the elements and the wonderful world we live in, to continue their good work in shaping the futures of our horses.

While the old saying that there are “different strokes for different folks” was never more appropriate than it is in the horse business, the reality is the way we do it works for Summerhill, manifesting itself as patently as anyone could hope for in four consecutive Breeders’ Championships. That’s not to say that we’re right and everyone else is wrong; it’s simply that, in the model we follow, it seems to be the best way to proceed.

Every new crop of youngsters brings new challenges, and whenever there are the progeny of new stallions, there is new excitement. That said, we usually deal with the first stock of a debutant stallion on the basis of entering just a few of them for the showcase National Sales, preferring to keep a good number back for the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run, where we can work closely with them, and understand their individual idiosyncrasies. This way we get to know how they respond to the making- and-breaking process, how quickly they learn, how they handle the rigours of exercise and being ridden, what their temperaments are like, what sort of actions they have, how durable they are and whether the mating which has produced that particular individual, is worth pursuing in future. The Ready To Run has been a great instrument in advancing Summerhill’s cause over the years, and has been a grand educational lesson for all of us.

We’ve often proclaimed the virtues of South Africa’s horsemen, and we point to the achievements of our jockeys, trainers and breeders on the international circuit as evidence of this. In Hong Kong, where the pursuit of the jockeys’ title is something every self-respecting rider in the world will take on at some point in his career, the Jockeys’ Championship has been in South African hands for seventeen of the past eighteen seasons (think Basil Marcus, Dougie White, Felix Coetzee, Robbie Fradd and Bartie Leisher), while the likes of trainers Mike de Kock and Herman Brown in Dubai, Patrick Shaw in Singapore and David Ferraris and Tony Millard in Hong Kong have illustrated the validity of this statement time and again. Of course, often enough they’re doing it with South African-bred horses, and that says something about the establishments that produced them.

We’re no less blessed in the quality of the intellectuals that bestride our game, and in the judges that are sent to the farms to cast their eyes over our yearlings. John Kramer, who’s been around since Methusalah, is as astute as anyone we know, with a far-sighted vision which is right nine times out of ten, when it comes to his expectations of what a horse will look like down the road. His assistant is the celebrated ex trainer, Tobie Spies, who in his day as an active conditioner of racehorses, was as hard-working a man as we knew at the sales.

There wasn’t a horse in the catalogue Tobie wouldn’t look at every sale he attended, and then he’d short-list his favourites and make sure, when the hammer fell in his favour, that it represented good value. Twice in the first four runnings of the old Bloodline Million, he managed to pull the needles out of the proverbial haystack.

The judges were more than complimentary about the draft in general, and they warmed particularly to the first progeny of Solskjaer and Cataloochee, each of whom claimed two of the top horses in the draft on points. In fact, the bulk of their horses earned “8’s” and above, and you couldn’t get off to a better start with a first crop sire than that. All three of the Hobb Alwahtans entered scored well, too, and so we’ll be looking to a good sale from these “freshmen”.

Besides a liberal sprinkling from our stalwarts, Kahal and Muhtafal in the line-up, we have a quality entry from some of the world’s best young stallions in Street Cry, Johannesburg, Shamardal and the old war horse, Royal Academy. Four of these are fillies from some exceptional families, and are bound to be on the list of anyone with a “collectors” taste for a good horse and a bit of serious pedigree, especially in these risk-averse times when downside seems to count so much.

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SHEIKH MOHAMMED awarded Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award of Merit

sheikh mohammedHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
(dailymail)

The Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit is awarded to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 20-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.

The list of past winners of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit is as follows; Niarchos Family, Peter Willett, Henry Cecil, David and Patricia Thompson, Lord Oaksey, Prince Khalid Abdullah, John Magnier, His Highness the Aga Khan, Peter Walwyn, the Head Family, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Frankie Dettori, John Dunlop, the Marquess of Hartington, Francois Boutin, Lester Piggott and Henri Chalhoub.

The 2008 Cartier Jury is made up of Michael Bell, Charlie Brooks, Alan Byrne, The Earl of Derby, Mike Dillon, Ed Dunlop, Douglas Erskine-Crum, Rod Fabricius, Philip Freedman, Tom Goff, The Lord Grimthorpe, Rolf Johnson, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Leo Powell, Ruth Quinn, Brough Scott, Sam Sheppard, Sir David Sieff, Johnno Spence and Howard Wright.

This year’s recipient of this most prestigious award is horseracing’s biggest investor and benefactor, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution to racing and breeding has been enormous. His interest in the sport started in England over 40 years ago and it has grown and developed into a worldwide empire.

He may be known on the global stage as Dubai’s leader as well as prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, but in the racing world Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is simply the sport’s biggest investor and benefactor.

Nobody in racing history has ever owned horses on the scale of Sheikh Mohammed and his equine empire is the culmination of an interest spanning more than 40 years.

While attending the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge, England, the 17-year-old Sheikh Mohammed and his brother Sheikh Hamdan went racing for the first time when watching the Noel Murless-trained Royal Palace win the 1967 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

A decade later he had his first success as an owner when Hatta, a 6,200 guineas yearling trained by John Dunlop and ridden by Ron Hutchinson, won a first prize of £968.60 in the Bevendean Maiden Stakes at Brighton on June 20, 1977. The filly went on to give Sheikh Mohammed a first Group success the following month when taking the Group Three Molecomb Stakes on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood.

It was the beginning of a passion for racing, first in Britain and soon globally, that burns even more greatly over 30 years later. He was brought up with horses. Descended from one of the most notable tribes in Arabia, Bani Yas, horses have been part of his life since childhood.

Bedouin culture and traditions are central to his heritage. The desert is a challenging, often harsh, environment so the ability to live in harmony with nature is vital to the people of the region. As a boy, Sheikh Mohammed learned to read the desert sands, to identify a single camel’s footprint in a herd of hundreds, and to understand the rhythm of nature, to be at one with the creatures of the desert.

Apart from tracking and catching scorpions and snakes, taming and training falcons and saluki dogs, it was horses that took up most of the young Sheikh’s time. He would share his breakfast with his horse on his way to school. Riding in his first horse race aged 12, he was drawn to difficult horses and earned a reputation for mastering impossibly wild horses, considered un-trainable by others.

Hatta may have been an inexpensive yearling purchase by Lt-Col Dick Warden, Sheikh Mohammed’s first bloodstock advisor, but the family were soon making their mark on a much bigger sale. At the 1979 Tattersalls Houghton Sale, trainer Tom Jones set a European record price of 625,000 guineas when buying the Lyphard colt Ghadeer for Sheikh Hamdan.

The Maktoum brothers also made a big impact on the other side of the Atlantic, regularly making headlines at the famous Keeneland July Sales of the early 1980s with Shareef Dancer, bought for $3.3 million by Sheikh Mohammed in 1981, winning the Irish Derby for the owner’s eldest brother Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed was keen to become involved in breeding and in 1981 bought first Aston Upthorpe Stud in Oxfordshire and then Dalham Hall Stud outside Newmarket, where Shareef Dancer retired at the end of his racing days. He also purchase Woodpark and Kildangan Studs in Ireland, after taking the advice of his long-term advisor, the late Michael Osborne.

The Sheikh’s maroon and white silks soon became a famous site on European racecourses, yielding success at the very highest level. Awaasif, a $325,0000 sales purchase, brought him a first Group One victory in the 1982 Yorkshire Oaks and three years later his home–bred Oh So Sharp won the fillies’ Triple Crown (the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger).

He enjoyed a great run of success in the Oaks at Epsom, via Unite (1987), Diminuendo (1988), who went on to take the Yorkshire Oaks, and Intrepidity (1993). Unite also landed the Irish Oaks in which Diminuendo dead-heated with Sheikh Mohammed’s Italian Oaks heroine Melodist.

Musical Bliss won another 1,000 Guineas in 1989 while there was also a 2,000 Guineas success in 1995 with Pennekamp, winner of the previous year’s Dewhurst Stakes. Meanwhile, Moonax (1994) and Shantou (1996) scored in the St Leger at Doncaster.

There were many other star performers during a golden era in the 1980s and 1990s including Pebbles, who won the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Coral-Eclipse and Champion Stakes after being bought by the Sheikh, Indian Skimmer (1987 French Oaks and Prix Saint-Alary, 1988 English and Irish Champion Stakes), Sonic Lady (1986 Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Moulin), Ajdal (1986 Dewhurst Stakes, 1987 July Cup, Nunthorpe Stakes and Haydock Sprint Cup), Soviet Star (1987 French 2,000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix de la Foret, 1988 July Cup and Prix Moulin), Sure Blade (1986 St James’s Palace Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and Sadeem (1988 and 1989 Gold Cup).

Other star names included Old Vic (1989 Prix du Jockey-Club and Irish Derby), Opera House (1993 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Coral-Eclipse and Coronation Cup), Belmez (1990 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), King’s Theatre (1994 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), In The Wings (1990 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Coronation Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), Sinsgpiel (1996 Japan Cup and Canadian International,1997 Dubai World Cup, Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International), Barathea (1993 Breeders’ Cup Mile and Irish 2,000 Guineas), Carnegie (1994 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe), Alydaress (1989 Irish Oaks), Arazi (1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), Tel Quel (1991 Champion Stakes), Winged Love (1995 Irish Derby), Ensconse (1989 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Shaadi (1989 Irish 2,000 Guineas) and Hailsham (1995 Italian Derby).

But the 1990s also marked the start of a new phenomenon, Godolphin. Just as Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley breeding operation remembered one of the three founding thoroughbred stallions, Darley Arabian, so did his family’s fledgling new international racing stable, the Godolphin Arabian.

Simon Crisford, who assisted the Sheikh’s then racing manager Anthony Stroud, was drafted in 1992 to manage the small initial team who would winter in Dubai before returning to Newmarket in the spring. Hilal Ibrahim had a short spell training the horses but it has been Saeed bin Suroor who has overseen most of the success.

Balanchine brought Godolphin a first Classic success in the 1994 Oaks while a year later bin Suroor trained the unbeaten Lammtarra to win the Derby for Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Dubai Millennium, who traced 25 generations back to Darley Arabian, became Sheikh Mohammed’s favourite horse when winning nine of his 10 starts, including the 1999 Prix Jacques Le Marois and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and most famously the 2000 Dubai World Cup, the richest race on the planet created by Sheikh Mohammed at the Nad Al Sheba racecourse in his home country.

There have been a total of 145 Group or Grade One successes in 12 countries worldwide for Godolphin via such luminaries as Daylami, Fantastic Light, Street Cry, Sulamani, Dubawi, Swain, Sakhee, Doyen, Kayf Tara, Bachir, Halling, Dubai Destination, Ramonti and All The Good, who recently gave the stable a first top-level Australian success in the Caulfield Cup.

Alongside Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed has built up his Darley stallion and breeding operation to be the largest on the planet. There are over 50 stallions worldwide based at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, studs in Australia and Japan as well as the longer-standing British and Irish outfits still centred around Dalham Hall and Kildangan.

As well as standing home-grown stallions, Darley have invested heavily to get the best young prospects from elsewhere, among them New Approach, who won this year’s Derby in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed’s wife Princess Haya, 2007 Epsom hero Authorized, Teofilo, Manduro, Shirocco as well as many star names in the US and Japan.

Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase this year of US-based Stonerside Stables included ownership of Raven’s Pass (in whom he already had a share), winner of last month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic for Princess Haya, and Midshipman, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has headed to Dubai ahead of a tilt at the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

As well as providing employment, both directly and indirectly, for thousands in the horse business worldwide, Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution to racing stretches far beyond his own equine interests.

The Dubai World Cup continues to be the richest race in the world while next year the futuristic Meydan racecourse will be unveiled in Sheikh Mohammed’s home country to take Middle-Eastern racing to a new level.

Both Darley and Dubai-based companies such as Emirates Airlines and Dubai Duty Free sponsor a string of major races globally including the Melbourne Cup, Irish Derby, Irish Oaks, Champion Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and July Cup.

Sheikh Mohammed has made many philanthropic contributions, including the donation of £10 million to four charities following the sale of the Racing Post last year, the sponsorship of the stud and stable staff awards in Britain and the creation of the Darley Flying Start which helps young people gain a grounding in the industry on a two-year course.

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ZARKAVA TAKES HORSE OF THE YEAR

zarkava and christophe soumillonZarkava with Christophe Soumillon aboard
(Photo : APRH)

The unbeaten star filly Zarkava (Zamindar) was named Horse of The Year last night at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.

Europe’s equivalent of the Eclipse Awards were presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, in front of an invited audience made up of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and the media.

Homebred by her owner, His Highness The Aga Khan, Zarkava won all five of her starts in 2008 to add to her two from two record as a juvenile. Showing tremendous versatility over distances from a mile to twelve furlongs, she captured two Classics, the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which she overcame the best middle-distance performers in Europe to register a stunning two length victory.

In Horse of The Year category, Zarkava came out ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), Epsom Derby victor New Approach (Galileo), five-time Gr.1 scorer Duke of Marmalade (Danehill) and dual Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), who won 18 Gr.1 races between them this year. She also took the honours in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division.

Princess Haya’s New Approach prevailed over Raven’s Pass in the Three-Year-Old Colt category, gaining his second consecutive Cartier Award, having taken the Two-Year-Old Colt Award twelve months ago.

This year’s Two-Year-Old Colt Award went right down to the wire with dual Gr.1 victor Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) pipping the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum (Cadeaux Genereux),

The Two-Year-Old Fillies’ category went to John Gosden-trained Rainbow View (Dynaformer).

Heading the Older Horses was Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade (Danehill), ahead of Marchand D’Or (Marchand De Sable), Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), Youmzain (Sinndar) and Darjina (Zamindar).

There was further glory for the Ballydoyle stable with Yeats, brother to Summerhill stallion Solskjaer, taking the Cartier Champion Stayer title for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Freddie Head-trained Marchand d’Or prevailed in the race for Cartier Champion Sprinter honours.

Sheikh Mohammed, described as racing’s biggest investor and benefactor, was voted the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit winner. Although unable to attend the Cartier Racing Awards ceremony in London, Sheikh Mohammed was presented with his award in Dubai beforehand by Arnaud Bamberger, the Cartier UK managing director.

On his acceptance of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation. I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”

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ASIAN RACING CONFERENCE - Maximizing Racing Value

asian racing conferenceEquine Veterinary Science Session
(Photo : Asian Racing Conference)

Wednesday at the 32nd Asian Racing Conference stimultated varied and thorough discussions on how to maximize the value of racing.

Dr. Isamu Takizawa, the Japan Racing Association’s Presidential Counselor for Foreign Affairs, set the tone for the third plenary session with the opening remarks, in which he stressed the need for racing to reach out to a wider audience.

“We must pay attention to domestic and international audiences in order to appeal to a wider client base,” Dr. Isamu Takizawa said. “The answers are pretty simple: when we look at the pinnacle event of other sports such as the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the Masters in golf. They are genuinely international competitions, and simply and easy to understand. Indeed, our aim is to build thoroughbred racing into a popular sport that is loved and watched by people around the world.”

The nine presenters - among them trainer and former star jockey Michael Roberts - agreed that regardless of issue, the 22 member nations of the Asian Racing Federation would have to work hand in hand if the sport were to reach another height of popularity.

William Nader, Executive Director of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, pointed out that the ARF needs an ambassador to carry racing around the continent and to the rest of the world like the other sports that have been successful.

“It is interesting, however, that we choose the word Challenge to describe a series of races like the Global Sprint and the Asian Mile format, because these series to come with unique challenges - the biggest of which are related to travel,” William Nader said.

“Participation is a key driver in any major sport where the major stars like Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lewis Hamilton and others routinely travel as part of building interest and awareness in their own identity and the identity of their respective sport.”

Improving the overall quality of the product is another aspect that must be addressed, and Horse Racing Ireland’s Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh suggested the hugely successful Irish way would be one way of doing it.

“We aim to stage a high quality and competitive race program in Ireland, underpinned by attractive prize money and progressive elimination of opportunities for lower quality horses,” Brian Kavanagh said.

“This is born out of necessity given the number of horses in our country and to encourage owners to reinvest and upgrade the quality of their stock. This leads to much frustration on the part of owners and trainers, but following initial resistance, there has been general acceptance for the principle of less racing, more emphasis on quality and a high minimum prize money level.”

Dominic Beirne, Director of Intelligent Wagering Solutions, said a worldwide standardized ratings, rankings and language must accompany the globalization of racing, and the ARF, given its representation of half the international racing community, is in an excellent position to kickstart the process.

“The ARF is well placed therefore to instigate a ratings and rankings information service on half the world’s racehorses, which should lead to the inclusion of the Americas and Europe, resulting in a Global Free Handicap,” said Dominic Beirne. “There will naturally be opposition to the idea of creating a Global Free Handicap, yet all decent ideas present significant challenges. The globalization of racing demands the standardization of ratings, rankings and language.”

The topic of medication and drugs was also addressed. Dr. Brian Stewart, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Head of Veterinary Regulation and International Liaison, equine medication ought to be harmonized internationally, to create a level playing field as well as welfare and safety.

“It seems very logical to pursue harmonization of medication testing sensitivity, but this is a controversial topic and there are inevitably heated discussions about the subject when analysts, veterinarians, horsemen and racing administrators discuss the subject,” Dr. Brian Stewart said.

“The ARF racing authorities are in a position to lead the world in achieving some consistency of medication policy and harmonization of the sensitivity of testing for therapeutic medications and should grasp the opportunity to do so.”

James Murdoch QC, Barrister-at-Law, echoed Stewart while calling for a racing program completely free of drugs.

“The solution may lie in adopting an International Anti-horse Doping Rule,” said James Murdoch. “Will it be difficult to achieve? Yes. Will it assist in securing the future of racing? Yes.”

Also speaking were Nigel Gray, Head of Handicapping and Race Planning of The HKJC; Bart Sinclair, Turf Editor of The Courier Mail; Dr. Ed Houghton, Chair of the Advisory Council on Prohibited Substances of the IFHA; and Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japan Olympic Committee.

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Tokyo welcomes the World at 32nd ARC

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges presents “New Strategies for new Global Challenges”
(Photo : Asian Racing Conference)

The 32nd Asian Racing Conference in Tokyo officially got underway with a lavish Opening Ceremony providing the fireworks on Monday evening.

The conference has returned to Japan in style after a 23-year absence, with the ceremony spearheading what should be four days packed with debate and deliberation during six plenary sessions and three selective sessions that will further galvanize thoroughbred racing in Asia - and the rest of the world.

The ARC has grown leaps and bounds, with a delegation of 850 from 33 countries and regions taking part in the highly anticipated meetings this week.

The ceremony was highlighted by a bit of ancient Japanese theatre, a flag-bearing procession of the 22 member nations of the Asian Racing Federation - which spread its wings to two new members earlier on Monday to the Saigon Racing Club from Vietnam and the Jockey Club of Russia - and a speech from the honourable Shigeru Ishiba, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries which oversees the Japan Racing Association.

For daily reports, audio and photos visit :
www.arctokyo2008.com

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THE YOSHIDA FARMS : GRAND SLAM

japan globeJapan Grand Slam
(Photo : Emanuele Vezzaro)

There are several outstanding features of a visit to any of the Yoshida farms. Firstly, each of the brothers operates an independent breeding entity, all fiercely competitive. At the same time, Shadai Stallion Station is a co-operative venture between the three brothers, and amazingly every one of the top ten slots on the Japanese sires log is occupied by a Shadai stallion. Now that beats both Coolmore and Summerhill for national stallion dominance!

Just as remarkable in my opinion though, is the fact that very few of the 48 resident stallions at Shadai, are imported (in stark contrast to a decade ago) and they’re unsurprisingly strongly represented by descendants of the phenomenal SUNDAY SILENCE.

But what absolutely fascinated me was the size of these beasts. There’s a new “size” in vogue in Australia these days, where just about every stallion somehow measures 16.1hh, but they’re “midget” by comparison. I must’ve seen twenty of Shadai’s most fashionable horses, and the bulk of them are tending more in the direction of 17hh, which tells us this is more of a trend than a coincidence, considering that they represent many of Japanese racing’s Champions of the recent past.

Now SUNDAY SILENCE was a good sized horse, but he was nowhere near 17hh, so it seems in their attempt to compliment his rather light frame and his own lack of skeletal bulk, the super-sire was bred to some seriously big mares. This point is born out by the fact that the only two mares I inspected, both Champion race fillies by SUNDAY SILENCE, were big strong-boned individuals.

And if the success of this pattern of breeding has now manifested itself into an irreversible fashion, it seems to me that in the same way as cattle breeders have had to find cows capable of producing ever larger calves, horse breeders (in Japan at least) will need to develop a sort of super-mare with the capacity to carry foals exceeding 70kgs at birth. Otherwise their reproductive organs are likely to be seriously compromised, with a corresponding reduction in breeding longevity.

NORTHERN FARM SUMMERHILL
900 hectares 1300 hectares
1200 horses 800 horses
400 broodmares 340 broodmares
80 daughters of SUNDAY SILENCE 32 daughters of NORTHERN GUEST
48 stallions 16 stallions under management
300 horses in pre-training 170 horses in pre-training
Three 8-900 metre covered tracks and three all-weather tracks Two 14- 2500 metre grass and two 1600 metre sand tracks, all uncovered
400 staff members 360 staff
Purchase/imports all feed requirements Manufactures/grows the bulk of its own through Vuma Horse Feeds
Insures certain of its bloodstock abroad Insures all horses through in-house brokerage, Goss & Co
50,000 visitors annually 30,000 visitors to Summerhill, Hartford, Vuma
Northern Horse Park (theme park) featuring horses of many kinds, tours etc including three restaurants Hartford House featuring 15-suite boutique hotel and leading national restaurant.
Hall of Fame shrine commemorating the achievement of the late Zenya Yoshida and Shadai Champions. Al Maktoum School of Management Excellence in planning stages, incorporating commemorative theatre with Hall of Fame and schooling facilities.

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Next Visit : KATSUMI YOSHIDA'S NORTHERN FARM

sunday silenceSunday Silence
(Jockeysite/Nippon)

One of the great rewards of an involvement in the art of racehorse breeding is the places it takes you to and the people you meet.

In our travels, Cheryl and I have visited most of the great farms in the major breeding countries of the world, but the one place which had eluded us thus far, was Japan. So the invitation from the Asian Racing Federation to manage one of their Plenary sessions, was a welcome opportunity to complete the cycle.

In August, our son Chris completed a two and a half year stint at the home of Japan’s Champion Breeders, Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, so that was the obvious target of our initial intentions. The Yoshida family are third generation legends of the Japanese breeding scene, though the man largely credited with propelling the country into the forefront of international competition was the current team’s father, Zenya. His prominence arose from his anticipation of the internationalisation of racing and was based on his intrepid forays into the Keeneland yearling market, where he purchased his famous foundation stallion, NORTHERN TASTE (by Northern Dancer) a French Group One winner of the Prix de la Foret, and eleven times Champion Sire of Japan.

The greatest compliment to their father’s founding achievement, came when the three brothers Teruya, Katsumi and Heruya (in order of age) secured the American Champion SUNDAY SILENCE at a time when the Americans had pretty much spurned him, and if it was possible, SUNDAY SILENCE proceeded to outperform even NORTHERN TASTE, reshaping the affairs of Japanese and international breeding.

I remember a chat I had with “Terry” (Teruya) at this same conference in India in 1995, when he told me that the rise of Japanese breeding (and in particular Shadai Farm, which he’d inherited from his father) revolved around the acquisition of horses which had excelled at 2400m (which suits the local programme), when breeders around the world had largely rejected these horses for being too stamina oriented.

The Japanese don’t forget easily, and history reminded them that British and European breeding had thrived on the back of these very horses, so here was an opportunity which led to the purchase of SUNDAY SILENCE and the two “Arc” heroes, TONY BIN and CARROLL HOUSE, while REAL SHADAI and BRIAN’S TIME represented still more stamina from the ROBERTO line.

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When it comes to good men, it's hard to find one better.

sheikh mohammed bin khalifa al maktoumHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum
(Photo : Mike de Kock Racing)

My Wednesday diary was devoted to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and his right-hand man, Mohammed Khaleel, and my trip to what we would term the Ministry of Land and Development is characterised by a very smart car which arrives, as usual, 15 minutes ahead of time. You see, His Highness is a highly organised man, whose organisation is exceeded only by his hospitality and his open pleasure at welcoming a fellow horseman.

A meeting I expected to last just an hour was far beyond the third, and gathers breath again when it becomes apparent that we won’t be able to make dinner because of a midnight flight.

The talk is about horses, and there are many of them stretched across several time zones from Australia to the United States. And then, inevitably, because of his palpable love of a challenge, our talk settles on the Dubai Carnival which gets under way in the New Year.

It seems Sheikh Mohammed will be double fisted in 2009, with the formidable likes of ARCHIPENKO and EAGLE MOUNTAIN already proven in international competition this year; known Dubai entities ASIATIC BOY and HONOUR DEVIL and any number of new “kids”, including the Summerhill boys, IMBONGI and ART OF WAR.

Sitting in the shadow of a portrait of his grandfather, Sheikh Zayed al Maktoum, whom His Highness shares with Dubai’s current Rulers, the warmth, the humility and the sheer decency of this great friend and admirer of South Africa, is a beacon of any visit to the Emirate. In many respects, Sheikh Mohammed is a symbol of his family’s history, a man of tradition and custom, with a deep understanding of where he and his people have come from, as well as the modern businessman and administrator, whose Ministry is a facilitator of everything Dubai represents today.

Whatever the dictionary has in the way of adjectives, what’s happened in Dubai is beyond the book. It demands a new language.

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Have you ever been to Summerhill?

Our Zulu Dance Troupe performing on Stallion Day
(Summerhill Stud)

There are those who’ll tell you it’s one of the rare places on earth.

That it has a soul so deep and so spectacularly surprising. That its originality and its history are defining dimensions.

That for all its “busyness”, it also has its sanctuaries, hideouts and nesting places for our wild friends and their natural habitats. Places we look after by leaving them strictly alone.

And then there are things we never let go, like www.summerhill.co.za .

For those of our pals with the frenetic timetables, of the civilized, increasingly crowded and belligerent world, who “visit” us for their daily rush of racing’s news, views and the business of breeding, we’ve installed the most advanced therapy in the technological world.

Many will tell you that if you’ve never been to Summerhill, you’ve hardly been anywhere. Imagine the stories you could tell if you had. And while you can never beat the real thing in the real world, the virtual one will do for now.

It’s a little known fact that following the alarming events which ensued in South Africa in the latter part of 1989, with the collapse of the Rand on the default of the nation’s international debt repayments, that the enterprise of this business initiated a delegation to England to attract people into racing and breeding in South Africa.

Such a success was the visit that among those who were lured to the southernmost tip of what our civilized neighbours to the north call the “darkest continent”, were the Maktoum family, whose association with this farm celebrates 20 years next March.

Besides the horses belonging to Dubai Rulers, Summerhill has become home to more than 300 thoroughbreds belonging to friends and investors spanning seven time zones, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Dubai (of course), Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Monaco, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It’s remarkable what you can achieve when you’re desperate, and today it’s a source of pride at the farm to know that this is the largest concentration of foreign owned thoroughbreds on any one property, anywhere in the world.

You’d sometimes have to ask yourself (if not pinch yourself) what it is that attracts these people into keeping their horses here so far from their homes, and it’s probably an answer that lies in the long history of the province of KwaZulu Natal. Let’s not forget that the Zulus who populated this area almost 1300 years ago, fought tooth and nail, in the first instance to amalgamate their own nation, and thereafter to preserve the territory they owned, against all odds. In the early 1800’s with the influx of European migrants principally from Britain and Holland (in the form of the Boers,) dominion over what was seen as some of the finest and most productive farm land in the world suddenly become an issue, to the extent that three nations (the British, the Boers and the Zulus) witnessed the greatest moments in their respective military histories within two hours of Summerhill.

The great battles of Isandlwana and Hlobane, Rorke’s Drift, Colenso, Majuba and Spioenkop sit deep in the breasts of these people, while its an intriguing fact of history that the greatest Englishman of all-time, Winston Churchill and the greatest African of all time, Nelson Mandela, were both captured within half an hour of Summerhill in 1899 and 1961 respectively. Don’t forget though, the liberator of India, Mohandas Ghandi, spent 22 years in this province, and that he turned up the battle of Spioenkop as a stretcher bearer in a scrap he had nothing to do with.

What was it then, in the subconscious of these people that attracted them here, and continues to tug at the heartstrings of the many who are part of the Summerhill story these days? We guess it must have something to do with the splendour of our environment, one of the best climates in the world, and of course, the people who live and work here. The Zulus are some of the most enchanting, respectful and hard-working people in the world, and it’s a tribute to their creativity and their appreciation of the performing arts that our little dance troupe, which has already ranked second and third respectively in the World Traditional Championships in Tokyo and Hong Kong that they’re off to the United States towards the end of the year as cultural ambassadors for South Africa. This time, though, we think they could come home the World Champions.

Until we meet again.

www.summerhill.co.za.

 

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A MONSTER FOAL, if ever there was one!

mare and foal

Snooty Lady with her 69kg colt foal by Kahal
(Grant Norval)

Just a month ago, we penned the story about a foal weighing in at 67kgs, expressing our amazement at the size of this youngster by Solskjaer, who’d left his mother somewhat battered and bruised (and still recovering). Last Friday evening witnessed a “topper”, with J&B Met hero, Angus sister, Snooty Lady, clocking up a 69kg monster in the form of a colt foal by current No.1 sire, Kahal.

We’ve never seen foals this size, and it’s pretty much across the board that we’re seeing greater skeletal structure in those produced here. While its not always a good thing (because of the damage it can do to the mare’s reproductive tract), 99.9% of these foalings pass without incident, and we guess it’s a tribute to the organic farming practices we instituted some years ago at Summerhill, as we’ve seen a 5-6 kg increase in the average foal weights on the property.

Last Friday evening’s addition is a three-quarter brother to Joey Ramsden’s outstanding galloper, Lostintranslation, who died sadly at the height of his powers during the KZN’s winter season this year.

Hopefully, this fellow will pick up where his illustrious older brother left off. The mare is owned in partnership with Messers Rodney Thorpe and Roger Zeeman, stalwarts of this family from day one through their celebrated broodmare, Nobely Known (by Royal Prerogrative).

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