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J J THE JET PLANE : All Summerhill and Hartford

Northern Guest
(Photo: Summerhill Stud)

You read our piece on J J The Jet Plane’s fine performance in the Leisure Stakes last week. A few notes on his origins.

Firstly, he’s another example of close and successful in-breeding to the grand old man of the game, Northern Dancer. But closer to home, J.J. is out of Majestic Guest, who was bred and raised at Summerhill, the daughter of the fellow who’s paid for most of what you see around us today, Northern Guest. Of course Northern Guest, is the most decorated broodmare sire in South African history, so it’s no surprise that one of his daughters pop up with a horse of J.J’s ilk.

That said, Majestic Guest was a product of a granddaughter of the one-time incumbent of our barn, Home Guard, from a family which is all Hartford, going back to the days of the Ellis family. Majestic Guest’s granddam, Fantastic, was a winner of the Grade One Breeders Champion Fillies Stakes, in turn a daughter of one the best racers to grace the Hartford paddocks, Panjandrum.

As for Jet Master himself, J.J’s sire, his great granddam resided at Summerhill as the property of the late Dickie Dunn, and her daughter, Jolly Laughter, was bred and raised at Summerhill. To complete the circle, Jet Master’s own mother Jet Lightening, was sold for the paltry sum of R10,000 at the annual KZN Broodmare Sale, which in those days was hosted in Malhub’s paddock alongside the Summerhill office. Talk about rags to riches.

There’s a lot of sentiment riding on J J The Jet Plane’s entry at Royal Ascot in a fortnight, particularly in this quarter, and we’re tipping him to make it a double notwithstanding the Aussie assault from Takeover Target. Both the King’s Stand Stakes (Gr.1), and the race which made Malhub famous, the Golden Jubilee Sprint (Gr.1), beckon.

ADMIRE MAIN : Africa's First Son of Sunday Silence

admire main africa rss

Many people appear to think this is not a sensible time to be investing in assets of any kind, let alone racehorses. Yet in the annals of the Goss family, it’s only a matter of history repeating itself. When Pat Goss snr found himself in the winner’s circle in the aftermath of St Pauls’ victory in the 1946 Durban July, he immediately set out to acquire a son of the world’s pre-eminent stallion at the time, Hyperion, applying the entire first prize to the purpose.

Just a month ago, the Summerhill contingent returned to the farm from a triumphant National Yearling Sale. Within a matter of weeks, they’d applied the entire proceeds (and then a bit) to the acquisition of two new stallion prospects, one of which, A.P.Arrow, was the subject of this column a fortnight ago.

In another ground-breaking event in a long-standing history of “firsts”, the nation’s leading breeders have teamed up with Japan’s perennial Champion establishment, Shadai Stallion Station and Northern Farm, in bringing this continent its first son of Sunday Silence. While it would insult his fame to repeat the detail of his achievements here, it’s fair to say, Sunday Silence has had as profound a breed- shaping impact on the evolution of the thoroughbred as any stallion of the modern era.

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(Photo : Summerhill Stud)


Thursday’s issue of England’s Racing Post, the foremost daily newspaper on racing, carried a story on the significance of times down Ascot’s straight course. Of significance to Summerhill and Stronghold, the horse we proclaimed one of the best to enter our stallion ranks, is the fact he posted the best time performance in the history of Ascot’s course in his big effort in the 2006 renewal of the Royal Hunt Cup.

Stronghold’s effort should be seen in the context that the same course is the venue for the running of one of the world’s most celebrated Group One miles, the Queen Anne Stakes, which takes place during Royal Ascot week, coming up in a fortnight’s time.

His trainer, John Gosden, always believed Stronghold had a Group One race in him, and it was for that reason that he did not get to his second career at Summerhill until 2008.

Following his big run at Ascot in 2006, Stronghold was injured as the starting favourite for the season end Challenge (Gr.2) at Newmarket, and then suffered a career-crippling injury in recovery after keyhole surgery on his knee in the off-season. As a result, he only saw the racecourse once thereafter, and that was in the Hungerford Stakes (Gr.2) where, after a twelve month layoff, he snatched the lead with a furlong to go, only to go down to a flying Red Evi (triple Group One heroine) in the dying strides, when both his condition and his soundness finally yielded to the demands of a spectacular finish.

Either way, this survey in the Racing Post reminds us how fortunate we are to have a horse of Stronghold’s credentials on the roster. No wonder the man who bred Danehill and the best Danehills since, Prince Khalid Abdullah, retained a rare breeding interest in this fellow, just as he did with Danehill.

Racing Post Thursday 4 June 2009

“Since Ascot re-laid the straight course in 2005, it is fair to say that there have been some unusual results at the track which have left students of the form book scratching their heads.

For starters, you can never be confident about where the fastest ground is, although you only have to look at the stalls numbers of the horses who dominated last season’s Golden Jubilee – the first five home were drawn in the five lowest-numbered stalls – to see that track biases can have a massive impact on the outcome of these races on the straight course.

Then there’s the track’s slick drainage, which means that it nearly always rides fast - just look at the GoingStick readings, which often imply it is riding much quicker than the official going description – with the possible exception being those races staged in the immediate aftermath of a heavy downpour.

There is also the track’s crossover with the all-weather, as we’ve seen many horses whose form has suggested they’re much better on artificial surfaces, particularly Polytrack, run well on the turf at Ascot.

This could be down to the fact that some horses really let themselves down on the unique racing surface and it places an emphasis on speed by rewarding horses who travel well in their races.

Nearly all of all-weather racing is staged on oval circuits, but I suspect that if we had all-weather racing on straight courses, the style of racing would be similar to what we’ve been seeing at Ascot.

In short, it’s a track for specialists, and as many of the races at Royal Ascot are staged on the straight course I thought it would be interesting to bring attention to some of the horses, many of whom are heading to Royal Ascot, that have been able to post significant performances on the clock on the straight course.

Races over 7f and 1m

The big handicap over 7f at Royal Ascot is the Buckingham Palace Stakes, but the entries for that race are yet to be published, and hopefully Clive Brittain’s Al Muheer will be handed an entry.

As a three-year-old last August he recorded an adjusted time of 74.64 over 6f, the sixth best time for that distance by a three-year-old and the best by a three-year-old in a handicap, while he also recorded a good time over a straight mile in July. He is on an attractive mark of 96 and 7f should be perfect for him.

But the big ante-post handicap over the straight mile is the Royal Hunt Cup. It’s routinely run at a strong pace and the top three adjusted times were all posted n the race.

Stronghold, who finished second off 9st 8lb in 2006, leads the way on 99.90 seconds, while last year’s second Docofthebay and winner Mr. Aviator fill second and third spots.

Docofthebay carried 9st 6lb when recording that time, but has slipped down the handicap, so will shoulder just 8st 11lb this season. If he can recapture his peak form, he looks extremely well handicapped.”

(Straight course since 2006)

TIME (sec)
Miss Andretti June 07 6 60.20
Dandy Man June 07 4 60.34
Magnus June 07 5 60.40
Takeover Target June 07 8 60.50
Takeover Target June 06 7 60.83
Soldier’s Tale June 07 6 73.53
Takeover Target June 07 8 73.57
Asset June 07 4 73.67
War Artist 5 73.68
Red Clubs June 07 4 73.77
Jeremy June 06 3 87.40
Red Clubs 3 87.75
Laa Rayb 4 87.79
Nans Joy Aug 08 4 87.79
Asset June 06 3 87.80
Stronghold June 06 4 99.50
Docofthebay Aug 08 4 100.49
Mr.Aviator Aug 08 4 100.50
Soviet Song June 06 6 100.59
Cesare June 06 5 100.82

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Fame And Glory lands lucky 10 for Investec Derby

fame and gloryFame and Glory
(Photo : Tattersalls/Marler)

News from the UK’s Racing Post is that Fame And Glory has been allotted the “lucky” stall ten in Saturday’s Investec Derby, for which all 13 colts stood their ground at Thursday’s declaration stage.

Since 1984 seven winners - Sir Percy, Galileo, Generous, Quest For Fame, Nashwan, Reference Point and Shahrastani - have come from a draw in ten.

Favourite and 2,000 Guineas winner Sea The Stars has been drawn in stall four, while Fame And Glory’s stablemate Rip Van Winkle will come from stall nine.

Paddy Power
make Sea The Stars their 11-4 favourite with Ballydoyle pair Fame And Glory and Rip Van Winkle inseparable at4-1.

Paddy Power spokesman Paddy Power said: “Rip Van Winkle may have slept for 20 years in Irving’s short story, but punters have not rested since Johnny Murtagh’s preference for the character’s equine namesake was announced on Tuesday.

“We can’t separate Rip Van Winkle and Fame And Glory and it’s a tight call which of Aidan’s two apparent leading lights will go off shortest.”

INVESTEC EPSOM OAKS : The 231st Renewal

john gosden investec oaks

John Gosden
(Photos : Team Talk/HKLM)


The 231st renewal of the Gr1 Investec Oaks to be run over a mile and a half on Investec Ladies Day Friday at Epsom Downs Racecourse , sees 10 fillies going to post with no surprises among yesterday’s scratchings.


The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that with so few in the contest, the outside draw for owner George Strawbridge’s Rainbow View (Dynaformer) should not count as a disadvantage. The last two winners were drawn in double-figure stalls, and last year’s Gr1 Fillies’ Mile heroine is poised for the big day after a visit to the Downs for last week’s “Breakfast with the Stars” morning. Of more concern is her ability to rebound from a fifth in the Gr1 1000 Guineas on May 3, and see out the extra half mile.


“I’m very clear in my mind that she will stay a mile and a quarter, but I don’t know about a mile and a half - you can only find out when you race them,” trainer John Gosden commented. “In terms of the Guineas, it was down to the ground being like a road, and she hated it and looked after herself. Her work before the Guineas was very good, so it was not about not having trained on. I really like the two fillies Sariska (Pivotal) and Midday (Oasis Dream), who won their trials and set a very high standard along with Rainbow View so it is a good Oaks as the front ones are pretty smart.”


Jockey Jimmy Fortune is hoping Rainbow View’s Newmarket effort can become a distant memory by Friday evening and added, “I knew after going two or three furlongs there, I wasn’t going to win as she changed her legs before she hit the “dip”, so I wasn’t too hard on her because it was the start of the year. She came back from the race in good form and she got a strongly-run mile at two at Ascot, so you’d have to say she’ll definitely get a mile and a quarter and is bred to get a mile and a half.”


Clive Brittain is no stranger to success at Epsom and bids to roll back the years with Saeed Manana’s Wadaat (Diktat). While the May 24 Gr2 Oaks d’Italia runner-up boasts none of the credentials of the stable’s 1992 heroine User Friendly (Slip Anchor), connections are hopeful she can bridge the gap. “My filly is nice and I know on the ratings she has a bit to find, but she is in with a shout,” jockey Neil Callan said. “She saw the trip out well in Italy and, like all of Clive’s fillies, she’s fit and tough and will be going there on merit.”


Of the outsiders, Julie Wood’s The Miniver Rose (High Chaparral) needs to improve on her second to Apple Charlotte (Royal Applause) in the 15 May Listed Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury, which was the race used as a springboard to success for the 2005 Oaks heroine Eswarah (Unfuwain).

Her trainer Richard Hannon said, “The Oaks has been the plan for some time now, and The Miniver Rose deserves to take her chance. She is a quirky filly, but very talented, and since we moved her across from Everleigh to our Herridge yard she has behaved much better. She isn’t blessed with tons of speed, so the step up to a mile and a half should suit her. ”The going remains good, and Director of Racing Andrew Cooper said, “The ground is currently spot on and I am glad we took the decision to water when we did. I would have no hesitation in calling it good in the main. It is a little bit quicker in places, mainly on the climb up the back straight.”


Vincent O'Brien : Legends are few, but by golly they’re passing

vincent o'brien jacqueline o'brien aidan o'brienVincent O’Brien, Jacqueline O’Brien and Aidan O’Brien
2006 Ryder Cup Race Day
(Photo : The Curragh Racecourse)

Vincent O’Brien died Monday morning at his home in Straffan, Co Kildare, at the age of 92.

Widely acknowledged as Europe’s greatest ever trainer, the former master of Ballydoyle was the Champion trainer in Ireland 13 times, and also a dual Champion trainer in Britain on both the flat (1966 and 1967) and over jumps (1952-3 and 1953/4).

Born on 9th April 1917 in Churchtown, Co Cork, Vincent O’Brien started training in 1944. He soon switched his attention to the jumping game. He also trained the winners of three Grand Nationals in a row, (1953-5). Famous for his successful gambles, he had amassed sufficient earnings and winnings by 1951 to purchase the Georgian house set in 320 acres of parkland named Ballydoyle. Within a few years, he turned to the flat, winning his first Irish Derby with Chamier in 1953 and his second four years later with Ballymoss.


During the 1970’s Vincent O’Brien, along with owner Robert Sangster and his son in law John Magnier, established the Coolmore syndicate, just at the time when racing was changing from a popular sport to a multi-million pound industry. The process of changing yearlings – most bought from North America and many of them by Northern Dancer – into valuable Classic-winning stallions proved vital to the business, and Vincent O’Brien’s eye for a horse was invaluable.

To have trained the winner of almost every big race over jumps was achievement enough, but to have at least matched that on the flat is what made him unique. His astonishing record on the flat included 16 English Classic victories, 27 Irish Classics, three Prix de l’Arc deTriomphes and 25 wins at Royal Ascot.



JJ The Jet Plane
(Photo : Gold Circle)


The much anticipated British debut of leading South African sprint star, J J The Jet Plane, took place yesterday in the Listed Leisure Stakes at Windsor.


Making all the racing near the rail early on, J J The Jet Plane had his rivals in trouble by the furlong marker. The Mike de Kock-trained four-year-old drew away late for an impressive four-length victory under jockey Ryan Moore.


The son of Jet Master was racing for the first time since his win in the Gr.3 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai at the end of February, and Mike de Kock was pleased to be able to get a run into his charge before Royal Ascot.


“I’m relieved to win. It was lucky there was a race at Windsor for him. I thought it was a good win in a fairly competitive field. I’m very happy with him; he’s not had a big blow but this will certainly do him the world of good,” said Mike de Kock following the race.


J J The Jet Plane has now laid down his credentials for sprint success in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and, if all goes well, he may have a crack at the Gr.1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket.


Thunder Key
(Photo : Gold Circle)

As a country with something of an obsession for speed, the South African racing calendar honours our sprinting talent on a regular basis. No gathering of the nation’s best sprinters however, expresses this more forcibly than the Festival Of Speed, a four race bonanza of Grade One events scheduled for this weekend. The top event on the card is always the Golden Horse Casino Sprint, which has been thrown open this year by the early retirement of Summerhill-bred, Rebel King, and his stable companion, Warm White Night. Nonetheless, the farm is represented by Pegasus Emblem, bred and raised here for our long-serving patrons, Malcolm Wishart and Luigi Cirigiliano, while Muhtafal has the game winner of his last start, Thunder Key, under starter’s orders.

While the betting for the S.A. Fillies’ Sprint is likely to be dominated by Charles Laird’s Merlene de Largo (four wins from five starts to date), Bruce Gardiner and Co’s Lisa Anne (Summerhill-bred by the late lamented Rambo Dancer) makes her Grade One debut for the Alexander stable under the capable tutelage of Kevin Shea. Also in the field (and not without a squeak) is Anthony Delpech’s mount, Noble Heir (by Kahal), a promising second to Moccachino in Gauteng’s Camellia Stakes just over a month ago.

Kahal’s loss is Malhub’s gain:

Rare for a race in which we’ve supplied two of the last three winners, we are without a runner in the Gold Reef Medallion (for two-year-colts). The field is packed with the progeny of the first season sire, Var, and two interesting runners by leading Australian sires, Redoute’s Choice and Exceed and Excel for Mike de Kock and Charles Laird respectively. The form here is not that well exposed, and the winner could come from any quarter.

Turning to the subject of our headline, ‘Kahal’s loss is Malhub’s gain’, the Alan Robertson Fillies Championship (for Juvenile Fillies) has been robbed of its one star attraction in the form of Kahal’s daughter, Spring Clover, widely touted as the top juvenile filly in the country. This does however open the race to a number of possibilities, and a strong claim can be made for Malhub’s talented daughters, Ashjaan (bred at Summerhill for Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud), who was just a length and a quarter behind Spring Clover in their last meeting, and the unbeaten Onehundredacrewood, both graduates of the Summerhill draft at last November’s Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run, where they cost R190 000 and R85 000 respectively.

We’d have to concede that for a horse of his own world-class, Malhub’s first crop was something of a disappointment to us, but he has more than made up for it with his second crop of juveniles, in much the same way as our standard-bearer Northern Guest, did in his time. Three of Malhub’s 2009 models have already earned Black type, and the fourth (Onehundredacrewood), is thus far unbeaten.

By Monday morning, it’s possible Malhub might’ve ascended back to the heights of that memorable day at Royal Ascot, when he got to meet The Queen after slaughtering the champions Johannesburg and Invincible Sprit in the Golden Jubilee Sprint (Gr.1).

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The latest conversation with Charles Laird was a “bitter-sweet” affair, as it involved some promising young horses, and the departure of the stalwart, Summerhill-bred Rebel King, who’s just left the yard to take up stud duties at Klawervlei Stud in the Western Cape.

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BETTING WORLD 1900 : Pointer to Vodacom Durban July

(Photo : Gold Circle)

Tonight’s Grade 2 Betting World 1900 at Greyville sees a highly competitive field lining up for this traditional pointer to the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July.

With four Summerhill graduates prepped for battle; Thandolwami, Catmandu, Dynamite Mike and Let’s Get Started (Reserve), it is sure to be a cracker.

Jack Milner writes for Tab Online that the on-fire Thandolwami must be every owner’s dream. Purchased for just R80,000, Thandolwami (Woodborough x My Sweet Love) has amassed R820,150 in stake-money and can become another “Equine Millionaire” if victorious in tonight’s R350,000 feature.

Summerveld-based trainer, Craig Eudey, has done a great job with this talented four-year-old, who seems to be getting better with every run. A useful three-year-old, he has now come of age and following some high-class recent efforts, is overdue to record a big win.

Thandolwami’s recent form is most consistent. He finished second to Likeithot in the Charity Mile November Handicap, fifth behind Rudra in the Steinhoff Summer Cup, a fast finishing second to Pirate’s Gold in the King’s Cup and a one-length third behind Smart Banker in last month’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.

He has saved some of his best performances for Greyville racecourse though, having won three of his six starts at the track and placing on three other occasions. A strange phenomenon if one considers how he loves to challenge from well off the pace.

Thandolwami will once again be partnered by jockey Raymond Danielson, who has established a fine understanding with the gelding. He has piloted Thandolwami in his last seven starts for two wins, three places and two close-up fifths.

Catmandu (Makaarem x Gypsey Spirit) is in superb form and is another fighter who loves the Greyville track. In last year’s running of this very race he was denied by a nostril at the hands of Jet Master’s full sister, River Jetez. After a couple of mediocre performances, Gauteng trainer Andre Kirsten’s charge seems to have regained his touch and last time out in the Grade 1 Champions Challenge, Catmandu ran just 0.75 lengths adrift of Thandolwami, despite having to switch for a clear run.

Other big names in the race include Charles Laird’s Crown Of Power; Mike Bass’ Thundering Jet, Air Combat and Judged Excellent; Gavin van Zyl’s Cape Town and Duncan Howells’ Tropical Empire.

The big race kicks off at 20:40.

R350,000 Betting World 1900 Grade 2
Final Field

No Horse Kg MR Dr Jockey Trainer
1 Singing Sword 60.0 104 7 D Masour Tyrone Zackey
2 Thundering Jet 59.5 103 17 B Fayd’Herbe Mike Bass
3 Catmandu 59.0 102 9 G Wrogemann Andre Kirsten
4 Thandolwami 59.0 102 10 R Danielson Craig Eudey
5 Vision Of Grandeur (Ire) 58 100 2 F Coetzee Justin Snaith
6 Tropical Empire (Aus) 57.5 99 11 B Lerena Duncan Howells
7 Wonder Lawn 57.5 99 8 S Randolph Dean Kannemeyer
8 Air Combat 56.5 97 1 G Lerena Mike Bass
9 Crown Of Power 56.5 97 6 A Marcus Charles Laird
10 Pirate’s Gold 56 96 18 S Cormack Glen Kotzen
11 Cape Town 55 94 14 K Shea Gavin van Zyl
12 Dynamite Mike 55 94 5 K Jupp Kumaran Naidoo
13 Full Power (Arg) 54.5 93 13 D L Habib Geoff Woodruff
14 Judged Excellent 54.5 93 12 A Delpech Mike Bass
15 Al Pasha 53.5 91 16 M Byleveld Dean Kannemeyer
16 Kiribati 52 92 15 D Daniels Sean Tarry
17 Mr. Esplendid (Arg) (Reserve) 52 88 4 Reserve 2 Joey Ramsden
18 Let’s Get Started (Reserve) 52 81 3 Reserve 1 Alyson Wright


SADLER'S WELLS : From Zero to Hero

bill oppenheim sadlers wells


From Zero to Hero

“Extract from the desk of Bill Oppenheim

In today’s Thoroughbred Daily News, the world’s premier stallion commentator, Bill Oppenheim, writes that Sadler’s Wells is arguably the greatest sire in European history.


A very high-class three-year-old of 1984 (the same crop as Rainbow Quest and Darshaan), he went to stud in 1985, and his first foals were born in 1986. At the time, European sire power was at its nadir, and he led the renaissance in European sire power that today keeps many more top European mares in Europe instead of Kentucky. He’s also probably the most prolific stallion in history.

In 21 crops of racing age through the end of 2008, Sadler’s Wells had sired a truly phenomenal total of 2,149 foals… yes, that’s an average of 102 foals per crop. Even more phenomenal, Equineline tells us he has sired 280 black-type winners worldwide (13 percent of foals), and he’s also the damsire of 183 black-type winners to date. He has been champion sire in Britain and Ireland 14 times, and Primus Advertising in Ireland, which keeps track of such things, estimates he has had over 200 sons go to stud.

Yet, on 1 January 2004, little more than five years ago, there was no Sadler’s Wells sire line to speak of. He had about four really successful sons: In the Wings, who in turn sired Singspiel; Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Barathea; El Prado, who went to stud cheaply in Kentucky in 1993, but ended up the second-best sire in North America from that year’s crop of stallions (numero uno is A.P. Indy), and who topped the North American General Sire List in 2002, when Medaglia d’Oro was a three-year-old; and Fort Wood, in South Africa. Beyond those, it was getting harder and harder to argue that Sadler’s Wells was a successful sire of sires.

Enter onto the scene Montjeu. He was very possibly the very best of the 280 black-type winners Sadler’s Wells has yet sired. Winner of the Gr1 French and Gr1 Irish Derbies and the Gr1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at three, he won three more Group 1’s at four, including an imperious win in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where he looked like a group horse in a maiden race. Timeform rated Montjeu at 137 both at three and at four. Yet, when he went to stud in 2001, his fee was a modest IrPound,30,000, a fraction of what his barnmate Giant’s Causeway commanded in the same season, his first year at stud. That’s all you could stand top-class 12 furlong horses for when they went to stud.

Our Insta-Tistics tables (on the TDN website) tell us that, in 2002, a total of 21 weanlings from Montjeu’s first crop averaged the equivalent of $99,982, with a median of $80,000. The conformation judges liked his first foals, and even though there was a certain amount of support from the Coolmore legions, his foals at the European sales impressed neutral pinhookers and other objective observers (as had Cape Cross the year before).

These figures represented excellent return for their breeders. You know how the Coolmore team likes to give their stallions a chance, so there were 66 yearlings sold from Montjeu’s first crop in 2003. They averaged $144,928, with a median just under $100,000, still a good return on investment for their breeders.

Montjeu’s fee for 2004, the year his first two-year-olds would race, was set at Eur30,000, the same as the year before.

Montjeu’s first crop, racing in 2004, included 16 winners, headed by the Gr1 Racing Post Trophy winner Motivator, and he finished third on the 2004 European Freshman Sire List. His stud fee was up to Eur45,000 for 2005, which looked dirt cheap by that autumn, considering not only did Motivator win the Gr1 Epsom Derby, but Montjeu’s first crop included two more Classic winners as well: Hurricane Run won the Gr1 Irish Derby; and Scorpion won the Gr1 St. Leger Stakes, though his more important victory came in the Gr1 Grand Prix de Paris in its first year as a 2400 meter race on Bastille Day - effectively, the “new” French Derby. After Hurricane Run won another little Group 1 contest, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Montjeu ranked second only to Danehill on the 2005 European Sire List (historical lists supplied to us courtesy of John Quinlan at Hyperion Promotions). Not surprisingly, Montjeu’s 2006 fee shot up to Eur125,000.

By 2001, the year his 13th crop were three-year-olds, Sadler’s Wells had sired the winners of nearly every Group 1 race beyond a mile in Europe, but he had never sired a winner of the Gr1 Epsom Derby. Galileo rectified that small gap in his resume, then went on to win the Gr1 Irish Derby and Gr1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. In Timeform’s lengthy essay on Galileo in Racehorses of 2004, they refer to Aidan O’Brien’s determination to run Galileo over shorter, even as short as a mile, in the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in late September. His two final starts were in fact at 10 furlongs - he was edged out by Fantastic Light in the Gr1 Irish Champion Stakes, and finally finished a non-threatening sixth, behind Tiznow and Sakhee, in the 2001 Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at Belmont Park. One thing about Sadler’s Wells: he’s never been a sire of dirt horses, so why El Prado is such a good dirt sire? Who knows?

Galileo’s first foals were born in 2003, but he was only 11th on the 2005 European Freshman Sire List, the year Montjeu’s first three-year-olds put him second on the European Sire List. But when Galileo’s first crop got to be three-year-olds, it was a different story. His seven three-year- old graded/group stakes winners that year included two Classic winners; Gr1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Nighttime and Gr1 St. Leger Stakes winner Sixties Icon, as well as Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks. And throw in Teofilo, the first of two consecutive champion European two year-olds by Galileo trained by Jim Bolger, and you won’t be surprised to hear Galileo’s stud fee went from Eur37,500 in 2006 (this year’s two-year-olds) to Eur150,000 in 2007 (this year’s yearlings). Galileo was seventh on the 2006 European Sire List; Montjeu was third, behind Coolmore barnmates Danehill and Danehill Dancer.

In 2007, Galileo advanced to second behind Danehill, with Montjeu again third. Danehill ran out of three-year-olds in 2008; Galileo claimed top spot on the European Sire List, with Montjeu second. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I call Montjeu “The Derby Sire,” because in four crops of three-year-olds he’s sired six winners of 12-furlong races that are, or amount to, Derbies: Motivator and Authorized have won the Gr1 Epsom Derby; Hurricane Run and Frozen Fire (2008) have won the Gr1 Irish Derby; and Scorpion and Montmartre (2008) have won the Gr1 Grand Prix de Paris since it became a 12-furlong race in 2006. This year’s Gr1 Investec Epsom Derby favorite, Fame and Glory, is from Montjeu’s fifth crop of three-year-olds, and, scarily, won the Gr2 Derrinstown Derby Trial with a higher Racing Post Rating (speed figure, 120) than either Galileo or High Chaparral (also by Sadler’s Wells), who both won the Derrinstown with RPR’s of 119.

For his part, Galileo had sired nine Group 1 winners in his first three crops by the end of 2008.

Besides Nighttime, Sixties Icon, Red Rocks and Teofilo, they include 2007 champion European two-year-old and 2008 Gr1 Epsom Derby winner New Approach; Gr1 Irish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune (bred by Jim Bolger); triple 2008 Group 1 winner Lush Lashes (trained by Jim Bolger); Gr1 Prix Royal-Oak winner Allegretto; and 2008 Gr1 Italian Derby winner Cima de Triomphe, now trained by Luca Cumani and very much a horse to watch in the top races in 2009 once the ground gets faster again.

Interestingly, though the Maktoum family clearly no longer patronizes Coolmore stallions at the yearling sales, they have nothing against buying them privately later, by which method they acquired Authorized (by Montjeu) and Galileo’s two juvenile champ, Teofilo and New Approach, from Jim Bolger. Coolmore, which after all does still have the “factories” – Montjeu and Galileo themselves - stands only Hurricane Run (by Montjeu).

Then again, we could take a look at the list of Aidan O’Brien’s seven three-year-olds that could line up for the June 6 Gr1 Investec Epsom Derby: all seven are by Sadler’s Wells and sons. Two are by Sadler’s Wells himself (Gr2 Dante winner Black Bear Island and Gr3 Chester Vase second Masterofthehorse), one, favorite Fame and Glory, is by Montjeu; three are by Galileo (Gr1 English 2000 Guineas fourth Rip Van Winkle, Gr2 Dante second Freemantle and Gr3 Lingfield Derby Trial winner Age of Aquarius); and one is by 2002 Gr1 Epsom Derby winner High Chaparral. His second crop of three-year-olds, this year, looks much better than his first.

A final observation: it seems like the connections of every Gr1 Epsom Derby winner go to great lengths to prove that their Derby winner is not “just” a 12-furlong horse because of a perception (never actually validated, from what I can tell) that breeders will be quicker to send mares if they can prove the horse at 10 furlongs as well. So guess what? The two top sires in Europe, Galileo and Montjeu, were both 12-furlong horses; each won at least two of the three major European Derbies (though that was when the Prix du Jockey-Club was 12 furlongs), plus a 12-furlong Group 1 race open to older horses. That 10-furlong deal? It’s a complete myth. Get the right 12 furlong horse and you can top the charts.

How El Prado came to be one of America’s leading sires, and is now threatening to open a branch of the Sadler’s Wells line on the dirt, is still a bit of a mystery to everyone involved. He was a Group 1 winner at two for Vincent O’Brien, having won what Timeform described in Racehorses of 1991 as “a particularly substandard running of the [Gr1] National S….” Timeform did rate him 119 at two, but that seemed almost more by virtue of his win at the end of the season in the Gr2 Beresford Stakes over a mile. El Prado didn’t reappear until halfway through his three year-old season, was unplaced in three starts at eight and 10 furlongs, and was packed off to stud in Kentucky. He was always a pretty useful sire, but not until his sixth crop did Medaglia d’Oro appear, and his eighth crop included three $2-million earners, turf champion Kitten’s Joy and Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller on the grass, and Gr1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Borrego on the dirt. He was Leading Sire in North America in 2002, and second in 2003 and 2004.

Though he’s done well enough in Europe, and gets his share of good grass horses in North America, the truth is El Prado has really got where he is more by siring durable dirt horses with some class than by following the sire line’s otherwise all-turf pattern; he’s succeeded because his runners have successfully adapted to different conditions - dirt. And his very best horse, Medaglia d’Oro, never saw the grass except when they took him out from Frankel’s barn to graze on it - he won $5.7 million racing exclusively on dirt. And from 13 stakes horses to date in his first crop, only one has even placed in a stakes on turf; he has two graded stakes winners on synthetics, but the rest, including the mighty Gr1 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, have been on dirt. Also, 11 of his first 13 stakes horses are fillies, though whether that means anything, it would be far too early to know.

So, in five years, the great Sadler’s Wells’ prospects as a sire of sires have gone from doubtful to the point where he had the one-two sires in Europe last year, and the hottest dirt sire in North America right now. It’s a pretty big forward move.

SINGAPORE'S PREMIER RACEDAY : The South African Challenge

 Mythical Flight
Kranji, Singapore, 15 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club)

Defending Singapore Airlines International Cup Champion, Jay Peg, will jump from stall five in Sunday’s feature event at Kranji, much to the delight of trainer Herman Brown.

“It’s a good draw and gives us plenty of options to ride close to the pace, as he normally does. A lot will also depend on how quick the horses on the inside go,” said Herman Brown.


In 2008, Jay Peg sat quietly in second spot before sweeping into the lead for a dominant victory in the 2000m showcase race. The European Bloodstock News reports that the handsome bay has failed to win since and has run below par in three starts since undergoing knee surgery, most recently finishing down the course behind Gladiatorus and Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free.


Mike de Kock’s charge, Bankable, will jump from stall three and is considered a possible danger to Audemars Piguet QE II Cup winner and race favourite, Presvis.

“That’s great,” said Mike de Kock’s assistant trainer Trevor Brown following the draw. “He (Bankable) is versatile with a good turn of foot and he’s had a good preparation.”


Sean Tarry, was left shaking his head in utter disbelief when his speed merchant, Mythical Flight, came away with barrier 11 for the 1200m KrisFlyer Sprint, where defending champion Takeover Target, well drawn on the inside, is the likely favourite.


“It’s a shocker. I’ve said all along we’ll be in trouble if he draws double digits,” said Sean Tarry, who was hoping to draw as close to the rail as possible but added, “We’re here to race. We wanted an inside draw, which can be vital here, but he has very good gate speed, he’s looking well and moving well.”


Former South African trainer Patrick Shaw, now based in Singapore, was also left deflated after drawing stall nine for local hero, the undefeated three-year-old, Rocket Man, owned by old friend of Summerhill, Fred Crabbia.


“Yes, I’m disappointed with the draw but we have to move on now. It’s not the end of the world but it makes his (Rocket Man) job a bit harder,” said Patrick Shaw.


The Australian-bred Rocket Man is the highest rated galloper in Singapore and his wins include both the Kranji and Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprints this season. Rocket Man is a half-brother to the Charles Laird-trained Gr1 winner Our Giant.


Summerhill Stud wishes all the South African connections “Voorspoed” and the greatest success on Singapore’s premier raceday.

Jay Peg sends stopwatches flying in Singapore

Jay Peg
Kranji, Singapore, 14 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club

The final countdown to the 2009 renewals of the Singapore Airlines International Cup and KrisFlyer International Sprint has begun.


This morning’s trackwork session at Kranji racecourse wound down to a sedatory pace, with most runners having already concluded the bulk of their preparations.


Interesting news from the Singapore Turf Club is that the only candidate to send stopwatches flying was the Herman Brown-trained 2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg, who put a broad smile on his South African connections with a solid hit-out on the Polytrack, underlining his spot-on condition ahead of the $3million race. A bullish assitant-trainer Nicolas Iguacel could not resist sending out an ominous warning after the workout: “More than ready to defend his title!”


Jay Peg winning the
2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup Gr1

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Breeding Racehorses : A Matter of Family

 goss family

The Goss Family
(Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)


The tradition of producing quality racehorses goes back almost eight decades among the Gosses. But their admiration for horses as a family has its origins in ancient Ireland, before the Battle of Boyne.


Ever since, they’ve held a warm affection for the sport of horseracing, and especially for the animals at the heart of it. The custodianship of that association was never more proudly revered than under the stewardships of Mick’s great grandfather, Edward, his grandfather Pat, and his own father Bryan, and today the manifestation of their obsession lies in everything you see at Summerhill.


It is true that in modern times, Summerhill” is a splendid, much-envied brand. Because in the eighty years since they first started breeding racehorses on a tiny scale at The Springs in east Griqualand, the Goss family have never breached the founding principles of excellence and audaciousness, laid down by the man who embodied them.


What you’re looking at here, all over again, is history. And more history, in the making. And you’re more than welcome to join us in making some of your own. Because there’s one thing that’s as true today as it was at the Battle of Boyne. We only win if you do.

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yoshida fammily battle

Waging battles on two fronts that took them down to the proverbial finish line last year, brothers Teruya and Katsumi Yoshida continued to dominate racing in Japan unlike any other familial dynasty in the world.

Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder reports that for the fifth consecutive year, Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm scooped the title of leading breeder with 617 runners garnering 310 wins and earning the equivalent of a mind-boggling £54,088,324. Northern-bred runners included three champions: juvenile filly Buena Vista, sprintermiler Sleepless Night and dirt horse Kane Hekili.


Catherine Hartley accepts the award for Breeder of the Year on behalf of Summerhill Stud from Peter Miller  at the 2009 Highveld Racing Awards
(Photo : JC Photographics)

It may not be the National title, but it’s certainly one we’ve always coveted, and we’re very proud to hold. For the second consecutive year, Summerhill was last night named Highveld Breeder Of The Year, and Vuma’s Catherine Hartley was on hand to pick up the silverware. Gauteng is the most competitive racing environment on the continent of Africa, and we’ve always counted ourselves lucky to be among the finalists for this prestigious award.

It’s probably an appropriate moment to revisit our standing on the National Breeders Log as well, where our lead is approaching R5 million. We’re reminded at this time of an advertisement we wrote in May 2005, as we marched to our National Breeders’ Premiership, and we thought we were reasonably comfortable with a R2 million margin. While the big lady still has a bit of singing to do, it’s a comforting thought that there is a sound buffer between us and our pursuers.

We never forget though, the sacrifices our people have made towards this achievement. It’s a sobering thought that, in our 30th year in business, that we should be so deeply indebted to so many, who’ve given up so much in getting us there.

sporting postClick here to view
South African National Breeders Log



The rains have stopped now in our part of the world, the days are blue and there’s hardly a cloud in sight. From now until September, the one thing that’s constant with us, is day after day of sunshine, the only difference lies in temperature. From nature’s perspective, Mooi River’s world goes to sleep for a few months and takes a well earned rest after so much output, so much given from September until now.

But for those of us who live here, we’re just entering another era of furious activity, weaning mares, preparing the winter pastures, preparing ourselves for the breeding season and the marketing of the stallions, assessing all the horses on the farm, particularly the mares, with a view to the forthcoming breeding season, and then writing the recommendations to our many customers around the world.

Of course, KwaZulu Natal, Africa’s racing capital, enters its Champion’s Season as we write, and so the sports are only just starting.

It’s a beautiful time at Summerhill and Hartford, and it’s not only the wonderful weather but the changes that come with the seasons, the briskness of the mornings, the warmth of mid-day and the coolness of the evenings. It’s an invigorating time, energies are lifted, and while the land and the environment go to rest, we have a little respite in which to get stuck into our intellectual pursuits.

And then we have a few things to look forward. Next month we have a draft of five yearlings arriving from Australia, two filles by the reigning European champion sire, Galileo, and colts by the celebrated international stallions, Red Ransom, Anabaa and Hussonet. On the same flight we will have a brace of new stallions, two men who will hopefully have a breed-shaping influence on our lives for many years to come.

These are momentous events in the life of a thoroughbred stud, the arrival of two progenitors who’ve been especially selected to take us to new levels.

But this little story is about autumn, not new stallions, and that is a story for another day.


investec“Investec to sponsor English Derby”

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

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

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

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

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

Of Charl Pretorius, Cocoa Rose and Jacuzzi's




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

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

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


take the hintTake The Hint
Pretty Polly Stakes 2009
(Photo : PA Photos)

When General Louis Botha, most feared of the Boer generals, took command of his nation’s troops at the foot of Summerhill in November 1899, he knew what he was in for. Britain had already claimed dominion over two thirds of the earth’s surface, and here was a man about to engage the most powerful army in creation.

But this was a man who knew how cavalry, skilfully deployed, could turn the tide of a battle. As a farmer himself, he also knew the value of breeding.

Which brings us to the point. Today’s cavalry may well compete on more peaceful fields, but the contest is just as fierce, and the importance of breeding has never been more critical.

This past weekend at the Guineas meeting in Newmarket England, the point was well made for the umpteenth time. Last year we introduced two exceptional young stallions to our band (Mullins Bay and Stronghold), and both of their already outstanding families received an encouraging boost in the principal Derby and Oaks Trials respectively.

There has been many an outstanding racehorse, not to mention Derby winners, spawned through their exploits in the Newmarket Stakes over ten furlongs of the Rowley Mile course, and on Saturday Your Old Pal (by Rock Of Gibraltar out of a half sister to Mullins Bay,) made it two from three starts thus far as he got up in the dying strides for the victory. In the very next event, the time-honoured Pretty Polly Stakes, (the route the World Champion mare, Ouija Board took on her way to Oaks glory) Stronghold’s half sister (by Montjeu,) Take The Hint, was a comfortable winner in a field whose advertisements included several Group One performers.

Your Old Pal made an impressive six-length winning debut at Newbury last October, and is reportedly headed for Royal Ascot’s King Edward VII Stakes (Gr.2) on the 19th June, while Take The Hint’s next engagement looks like being the English Oaks (Gr.1) on the Friday of the Derby meeting at Epsom.