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THANDOLWAMI - The Horse with a Big Heart



(Photo : Gold Circle)

“Craig Eudey, Thandolwami and the Vodacom Durban July”

When Thandolwami lines up at the start of the 2009 Vodacom Durban July on Saturday, a significant achievement will be recorded against the name of his trainer Craig Eudey, as the four-year-old chestnut is from Craig Eudey’s first crop of horses as a trainer.

David Thiselton writes that Craig Eudey, who is based at Summerveld and was assistant to Alistair Gordon for some 26 years, chose the Summerhill-bred Thandolwami at the National Yearling Sales.

“I especially liked the way he walked,” he recalled.

The Woodborough gelding was the first horse he ever bought from the country’s top auction.

He initially thought Thandolwami would be a precocious sort, but the horse gets better and better as he gets older.

“When he won over 1200m as a two-year-old it was probably, in retrospect, only because he had more ability than the rest,” said Craig Eudey.

Carrie Radford, who is the yard assistant, has played a big part in Thandolwami’s success, as he had been a very headstrong and fractious sort as a youngster.

Jeff Lloyd won on him as a two-year-old and reckoned that without the hard work Carrie had put in to quieten him down he would have ended up a loony,” said Eudey. “We wouldn’t have had a horse without her patience.”

Carrie Radford spent many hours working the horse around the turn. This has the affect of settling a horse as when some see a straight course ahead of them they tend to want to tear away.

Thandolwami’s owners, James Roberts, Louis Bernhardi, Neil Butcher, George Griesel, Max McConnell, Stuart McGregor and Craig Eudey himself, are all having their first July runner with the exception of Stuart McGregor. He owned Gleaming Sky, who ran ninth in the 1998 July.

All of the connections were at the July final field and draw ceremony last Thursday.

“It was nerve-wracking because with just five horses left we hadn’t come out of the hat and draws 19 and 20 still hadn’t been allocated,” said Eudey.

As it happened he was thrilled with Thandolwami’s draw of seven.

The horse is known for his strong finishing run so being able to relax from early on, as he should be able to do from that draw, is the best scenario for him.

This is the first time the six-time winner has cracked a good draw in a big race.

His best achievements to date have been a narrow second to Likeithot in the Grade 2 November Handicap over 1600m, and third behind Smart Banker and Aluminium in the Grade 1 Summer Cup, both races having taken place at Turffontein from draws 15 and 16 respectively.

Thandolwami’s worst trait at the races is that he takes a while to get going in the straight and his flying finishes have proven to have come just a touch too late in top company, although he did record the fastest 400m to finish time against the top miler Imbongi in last season’s KZN Guineas.

“When he does decide to accelerate there are not too many who can go with him. There will have been bigger upsets than Thandolwami winning the July.”

Thandolwami was looking in very good condition after a light canter at Summerveld on Sunday.

The new yard that Craig Eudey has recently moved to has indoor stables and they have thus not had to blanket him. There is no evidence of winter in his shiny coat.

At 15-3 hands, Thandolwami, has matured into a straight forward sort of a horse personality wise.

“Thandolwami has a good temperament and is kind in nature, not nasty at all,” said Carrie Radford. “He is playful and, like most better horses, is proud of himself. He can lead or follow, but if he sees a horse ahead of him on the training tracks he wants to catch it. He takes his big heart to the races and will always try his hardest to win.”

London Guest chasing Durban July History

London Guest
London Guest

London Guest

(Photo : Gold Circle)


If Vodacom Durban July challenger, London Guest, wins the big race on Saturday, he will become the first horse to ever follow in the footsteps of both his sire and grandsire as a winner of Africa’s greatest horserace.

David Thiselton writes that London Guest’s sire, London News, trained by Alec Laird, won the July in 1996 and was himself the son of a previous winner, the 1987 winner Bush Telegraph, who was trained by Bert Abercrombie.

There have been a few July winning progeny of previous winners but the sequence has never before reached a third generation.

In 1911 Nobleman became the first and only ever two-year-old winner of the July and it was also the first time the progeny of a previous winner had won the race. His mother, Peerless, had won in 1903. Nobleman was ridden by Alec Laird, the father of record-breaking seven-time winning July trainer Syd Laird and grandfather of current trainers Alec and Charles Laird, who have each won one July.

In 1915 Winnipeg became the first horse sired by a previous winner, 1909 winner King’s Favourite.

In 1951 the winner Gay Jane was the daughter of 1941 winner Sadri II.

The following year one of the July’s most revered winner’s, the Hartford-bred (Summerhill) Mowgli, was the son of 1940 winner, Kipling.

C’est Si Bon, winner in 1954, put Sadri II into the record books as the only July winner to have sired two winners of South Africa’s premier horse race.

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TEAM POCKET POWER make the Pilgrimage

bike bass, carol bass and marsh shirtliff
bike bass, carol bass and marsh shirtliff

Mike Bass, Carol Bass and Marsh Shirtliff pictured awaiting their

famous Hartford salmon omelettes

(Photo : Leigh Willson)

Marsh Shirtliff is not a superstitious man, not as far as we know, yet he does know that there hasn’t been a July winner in the past twenty years whose connections have not made it to Summerhill for the July, or at the very least, for our Stallion Day on the Sunday afterwards. The trick is either to make it beforehand or to make sure you’ve accepted the invitation in advance for Stallion Day, otherwise you risk taking on history. So Marsh dragged Mike and Carol Bass to the farm on a spectacular Sunday morning, and they took up their lodgings in the Inkanyezi and Nhlanhla suites while the Bass stable was cleaning up in the big events in Cape Town.

Logic tell us Pocket Power is a shoe-in for the big race, but Mike Bass (and you’d better be listening, if you intend having an interest in the big event next Saturday) thinks River Jetez is twice the filly she was last season. Let’s not forget what a big race she ran in the 2008 Vodacom Durban July, and if she’s twice as good as that, Pocket Power himself will need to have made some improvement to keep her out. And that he undoubtedly has, having had a trouble free “prep” for the first time in his life.

Of course, with three of our own in the line-up, it would be uncharitable of us not to wish them everything of the best, but we really hope that if either of them fluff their lines, the gates will open for Thandolwami, Outcome or Catmandu.

hartford house website link
hartford house website link


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Daily News 2000 and Woolavington Stakes

(Photo : Gold Circle)


Those who read the Sporting Post will undoubtedly know by now that, come the big days, there’s always a drum banging for horses that know the taste of Africa’s finest horsefeed.

Saturday’s gathering of the best three-year-olds in the land, witnessed the renewal of the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1) and the Woolavington Stakes (Gr.1), an assembly of the best colts and fillies respectively and the principal trials for the sophomore generation aiming at the biggest horse race in Africa, the Vodacom Durban July.

There was nothing really surprising about the outcome of either, as the winners represented some of the best form of the season, with Big City Life taking the colt’s version, and Zirconeum, bred across the valley from Summerhill by our neighbours, Karen and Warwick Render at Bush Hill Stud, snatching the laurels in the fillies’ version.

What wasn’t surprising though, was that the first three home in the Daily News 2000 were all sustained by Vuma (Big City Life trained by Glen Kotzen, Dan De Lago (Charles Laird) and Captain Scott (Alec Laird) while Zirconeum, the little filly with the heart of a giant, was another feather in the already substantial cap of Mike de Kock.

No doubt, knowing the protagonists, these fellows will all march on to the Greyville track on the first Saturday in July to the Vodacom jingle.

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


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

Hong Kong Champions Mile Group 1 : POST MORTEM

Champions Mile Gr1 2009
Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Mike de Kock is back in South Africa, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The man is a national treasure, and when it comes to the reputation of South African racehorses and their exportability, nobody’s done more for the game. We picked up on him shortly after he landed, and his feelings about Imbongi’s run (he finished just on two lengths behind the winner), was that he would’ve been a lot closer had he not lost ground on the bend. There was no explanation for it, other than the horse had a little bit of the “slows” midway through the race, yet he ran on resolutely, to get within two lengths of the winner, winding up 6th with a cheque in hand.

Mike’s feeling is that the setbacks his horses suffered in Dubai in the month leading to the World Cup, left them a little short in terms of their preparations, and he feels we’ll see a good bit of improvement when they start up their motors in England in the next month or two. Stay with us, there’ll be more to come from Imbongi.

THE CHAMPIONS MEETING : A Big Day for Summerhill


There can’t be too many race meetings in the world that boast eight Graded Stakes races, yet that’s what racegoers can look forward to Saturday at Turffontein, and if the last few months are anything to go by, we can count on some big hitting contests. For Summerhill, we have sixteen footsoldiers on duty in the Graded races, but for the time being, we’ll concentrate our comments on the three Grade Ones, kicking off with the top-biller, the Champions Challenge (Gr.1) for all of R2 million.

There are a lot of pundits who would make the quartet of Smart Banker, Likeithot, Senor Versace and Crown Of Power from the Charles Laird stable a “shoe-in” for the laurels, but we’re not sure it’s that cut and dried. Much will be claimed by the connections of Buy And Sell, Surfin’ USA (whose mother Fenn Tarbitt-owned Palm Beach Gold is a resident mare at Summerhill), Forest Path and Zirconium, while Ormond Ferraris will be hoping that his gallant mare, She’s On Fire, is able to reproduce the run which carried her into second spot last year.

Charles Laird may well have four aspirants engaged in the big one, but we’re not without our own hopes, headed up by the horse that managed second place in the event a year ago, Catmandu, on-fire Thandolwami, and the heroine of the prestigious Gerald Rosenberg Stakes at her last start, Spring Garland, while Steve Sturlese’s El Padrino rounds it out. There are some doubts about the stamina limitations of Thandolwami and El Padrino, but the former has managed a decent draw for the first time in heavens-knows-how long, and he seems to have a love for Turffontein and its long strait. How many times has this fellow been beaten by the fact that he’s run out of space at Greyville, and we only have to go back to November to see him running within a quarter length of Likeithot on precisely the same weight terms as they meet on Saturday? For what it’s worth, Hartford hosted Champion Jockey, Anthony Delpech over the Election holiday, and he believes only altitude can deny Thandolwami his due. Some recommendation from a world class rider.

The fact is, Summerhill graduates make up 25% of the field in what is one of the richest races in the nation, and that tells you all you need to know about their upbringings.

THE CHAMPIONS MILE (Gr.1) : Sunday dawns in Hong Kong

Imbongi 23 April 2009
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

You can go into any worthwhile website on racing anywhere in the world right now, and you can pick up news of this weekend’s big events in Hong Kong, including the Champions Mile. However, the one thing you won’t get is a statement from the horse’s mouth, so we thought we’d bring you news of our most recent bulletin from Mike de Kock, who sends our home-bred, Imbongi to post on Sunday.

Anyone hoping to make any sort of impression in this race would have to take history into account in their calculations, knowing that in all its time, the Hong Kong Champions Mile has yet to witness a placed runner among its foreign raiders, and that last year’s spectacular hero, Good Ba Ba reached the post in an amazing 1min 31.3 secs, and you know what you’re up against.

However, Mike de Kock is of the firm view that Imbongi is a real contender, provided he is over the troubles which confronted so many of the Mike de Kock stable in Dubai over the World Cup, and if Imbongi can get back to a modicum of the form which carried him to stardom in two Guineas and a triumph over Horse Of The Year, Pocket Power ans well as four other Grade One winners in the Drill Hall last season. Mike tells us though, that Imbongi managed an official “bullet” 21,5 secs for the last 400m of his final workout on Tuesday. If that’s not notice he’s ready to run for his life, tell us what is?

Keep your heads down, there could be an explosion Sunday morning (9:55 am our time).

Imbongi and Archipenko working well in Hong Kong

imbongi and archipenkoArchipenko (left) and Imbongi (right)
(Photo :

Racingweb reports that Archipenko and Imbongi enjoyed a refreshing time in the wash bay after their Saturday workout at Sha-Tin racecourse in Hong Kong.

Mike de Kock’s runners are being prepared for this week’s Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Hong Kong Mile respectively and assistant trainer Steven Jell tells “Archie with Kevin Shea and Imbongi ridden by Jeff Lloyd worked together over 1400m on the grass track proper at Sha-Tin today (Saturday) and they were impressive.”

“We’ve had quite a lot of rain so the track is in good condition. They picked up speed from the 800m mark and completed the last 400m in an official 21.5s, very good. Both are looking well and we’re looking forward to next week.”

Mike de Kock himself will be jetting to Hong Kong within the next few days.

LINDSAY PARK STUD : The Extension of a Legend

sam hayes national yearling sale (heather morkel)Sam Hayes
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

One of the associations in which we take great delight, is with the legendary Lindsay Park Stud in the vicinity of the famed Barossa wine growing region of South Australia. Lindsay Park was founded by one of Australia’s training icons, the late Colin Hayes, father of Australia’s leading trainer of the present era, David Hayes and grandfather to Sam Hayes, who has taken over the stud breeding operations at the property.

Lindsay Park has many things in common with Summerhill, not the least of which is its isolation from the mainstream of Australian breeding, the Hunter Valley. Like us in KwaZulu Natal, South Australia is off the beaten track in breeding terms, yet it continues to produce a stream of top quality horses, despite its removal from the location of the nations top stallions. Only recently, it has produced the likes of the celebrated Grade One winners, Niconero and Nicconi (winner of last weekend’s Galaxy Stakes Gr1). From all accounts, Sam enjoyed his trip to us last week. With his permission we quote from his note penned on the way home.


Dear Mick and Cheryl,

I am currently flying from Johannesburg to Sydney and reflecting on the last ten days.

I would like to sincerely thank you both for your wonderful hospitality in Johannesburg, at Hartford House and at Summerhill Stud.

The South African experience in general was everything that I had hoped it would be (and more!). The results of the National Sale were encouragingly strong in the face of a decline in world confidence. I was most impressed by the sale ground facilities and permanent hospitality areas within each barn (not to mention Linda’s chicken rolls… one of many highlights!)

The trip from Johannesburg to Natal with the stopover at Clarens provided for a great opportunity to view the South African landscape. Thanks for letting me travel with you.

Hartford House is a very special place. It is a credit to your imagination and sense of style Cheryl. The decor, delicious food, excellent service, warm hospitality and Zulu dancing will not be forgotten. It is a world class venue. Congratulations!

Summerhill Stud was quite inspirational. Seeing the Summerhill Stud graduates winning Group races at Turffontien on Saturday and then witnessing the top filly and colt being sold from your draft was only the beginning! Being able to observe your farm and your team at the top of its game was a real treat.

It was motivational to see first hand what can be achieved with hard work, optimism and persistence. The vision that your team has for Summerhill has largely been realized and to see a business modeled so meticulously on the template of one’s vision was most inspiring.

The things that stand out in my mind are the proactive initiatives to train and educate your staff (not only with work skills but general life skills as well). The genuine focus on clients. The effective diversification of your business through insurance and feed divisions and the development of organic pasture management practices.

But what I loved most was the burning desire you all had to become South Africa’s leading breeders, backed by a steadfast belief that you would one day get there despite not having the monetary backing or the perceived geographical advantage of your rivals. You are reaping the benefits of doing what you love. That really does inspire me.

Naturally I found so many parallels with what we are hoping to achieve at Lindsay Park Stud. I can’t wait to get back to work. I know, with time, we can do the same.

Thanks also for giving me an insight into how you run your monthly accounts. Those templates will be very useful in helping us to re-design our financial reporting.

The whole experience was an absolute privilege that I sincerely appreciate. Not even watching the Australians loosing the one dayer in Cape Town was going to dampen my spirits!

Please pass on my thanks to all the team, especially Heather, Linda, Kerry, Annet, Tarryn and Marlene.

Long may your success continue!

Warm Regards
Sam Hayes

Summerhill Stud’s Australian Ambassador!


hong kong horse racingScenes from Hong Kong
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

“A piece from Mick Goss”

Growing up in one of the remotest parts of the world as the son of a Pondo trader, I never imagined myself as the owner of an international class racehorse, let alone partnering a member of a nation’s ruling family and running for R14million, at Group One level. Yet that is what Imbongi has done for Summerhill Stud, and next weekend he gets his chance to take on some of the world’s best milers in the Hong Kong Mile (Gr.1). His travel mate, Archipenko, showered himself in glory as the hero of last year’s Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr.1), and he returns this year to defend his crown.

Hard on the heels of Summerhill-bred, raised and educated Paris Perfect’s $600,000 romp in the Dubai World Cup (Gr.1), and Art Of War’s stand out billing from Mike de Kock as the “biggest surprise of the Dubai Carnival”, Imbongi now gets his chance to show to the world what made him the most formidable three-year-old miler in South Africa last year.

Keep a check on Mike de Kock’s website for all the latest news from Hong Kong.


Dancer's Daughter in Mint Condition

dancers daughter empress club stakesDancer’s Daughter winning the Empress Club Stakes (Gr1)
(Photo : Phumelela)

David Thiselton reports that Dancer’s Daughter on Monday checked into Clairwood for the Champions Season 2009.

Trainer Justin Snaith rode Dancer’s Daughter out yesterday and said that the superstar grey mare was very well. Jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe will work ride her today.

“She has been in a very bad mood today,” said Justin Snaith, who has always stated that a foul mood is the signal to him that the mare is in the mint of condition.

Pocket Power, arch rival to Dancer’s Daughter, settled in at Clairwood just under two weeks ago, with the pair’s rivalry promising to feature epic in the Champions Season.

The first Dancer’s Daughter versus Pocket Power clash might once again be delivered in the form of the Grade 1 Gold Challenge over 1600m at Clairwood, come 13 June.

To date the score stands at : Pocket Power two-and-a-half and Dancer’s Daughter one-and-a-half; with Dancer’s Daughter beating Pocket Power when taking victory in last season’s Gold Challenge, the pair dead-heated in the 2008 Vodacom Durban July thriller and Pocket Power beat Dancer’s Daughter when finishing second in the 2008 Champion’s Cup.

Pocket Power took an historic third victory in this year’s renewal of the J&B Met and Justin Snaith will be determined for Dancer’s Daughter set the score straight in the 2009 Vodacom Durban July.