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first admire main foal
first admire main foal

First Admire Main Foal

(Photo : Leigh Willson)


“There is a tide in the affairs of man, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”. So said one of the wisest of them all, William Shakespeare, several centuries ago, as true today as it was then.

If you’re in the horse business, and engaged with stallions, you’ll know the critical value of a blockbuster sire. A “good bull is half the herd, a bad bull is the whole herd” another wise man once said of his stallions. Claiborne Farm’s Bull Hancock knew what he was talking about, associated as he was with the likes of Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Princequillo and Nijinsky. That we still recall those names with such reverence, is an accolade to the significance human beings attach to the deeds of great stallions, and we lie awake at times like this, waiting for the arrivals of those with their maiden crops.

The first portent of a stallion’s potential is a matter of racing prowess and pedigree. But the big judge lies in the foals, because neither racing class nor parentage is, in itself, a guarantee of sire success. Last season, Mullins Bay’s first lot told us he’d passed the second hurdle, that his foals were everything his pedigree and racecourse performance promised. Just as accomplished and equally well bred are A.P. Arrow (by A.P. Indy) and Admire Main (by Sunday Silence), who face the jury in 2010.

For twelve long months we’ve waited again for the Admire Mains and A.P. Arrows, and the man from Japan has been the first out of the starting blocks. But that’s not the only respect in which he ranks first : he’s also the first (and the only) son of the breed shaping stallion Sunday Silence, to stand at stud on this continent, so his first foals are not only eagerly anticipated, they’re also unique.

This first arrival is from a modestly performed daughter of Kahal, and is just her second foal. By any standards anywhere, he’s an excellent sort, and if our man “Admire” can keep this up, we’ll be celebrating well into the new year.


For more information please visit :



stronghold foal
stronghold foal

Please click the Stronghold Foal above to view photo gallery

We wrote a fortnight ago about the expectations that accompany the arrival of a new stallion on the farm. The consequences can be far-reaching and profound, but at the same time, they can be long-lasting and destructive. We know that most stallion prospects fail in their second careers, and the fact that only a select few succeed, is one of the principal reasons behind the nobility of the thoroughbred as a species.

The next stage of the acid test, of course, comes with the arrival of the first progeny of a new stallion, and this weekend was a double celebration for us. Last season we introduced two of the best young prospects to set foot at Summerhill, Mullins Bay and Stronghold, and we were greeted with the arrival on Sunday of a filly foal from each, and then shortly after that, with a second filly out of a Group-winning mare for Stronghold.

All three foals are exactly what you might’ve dreamed of in your expectations from these two stallions. Big, scopey and strong, the Mullins Bay is almost a picture replica of its sire, while the Strongholds are both chips off the old Danehill block. If this is what we can look forward to in the future, well then….. boom!

Market Correction at Japan Sales

lot 275 foal colt by daiwa major
lot 275 foal colt by daiwa major

Top Lot 275 by Daiwa Major (Sunday Silence) out of Wind In Her Hair

(Photo : M MacDonald)

Japan Racing Horse Association July Select Sale

Day 2 Foal Session

Although the yearling sales day was described as “amazing” by breeders at the JRHA sale on Monday, sober realism erased the euphoria as the prices for the first session of foals plunged.

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports : “This is a market we must accept under the current economy,” said JRHA spokesman Naohiro Goda, suggesting that consignors may have become too optimistic following a 15-percent leap upward in gross during Monday’s yearling session. “Some consignors set high reserves for the first foal session, which resulted in the high buy-back rate,” Naohiro Goda said, explaining that some viewed the trend of increasing strength in Japan’s yearling market as an incentive to hold onto their foals for sale in 2010, unless they received outstanding prices.

Traditionally, Japanese buyers have preferred to purchase foals, but market predilections are following international standards and shifting toward yearlings.

CORRECTIVE SURGERY - How far is too far?

The Corrective Surgery Debate
(Photo : Annet Becker)


Early assessment and close monitoring of a foal’s conformation is crucial so that measures can be taken to improve any abnormalities. However, one particular treatment, ‘corrective surgery’, has become so commonly performed on even minor conformational imperfections that many are now questioning whether it is being carried out too frequently and whether its disclosure at the yearling sales should be mandatory.  James Tate BVMS MRCVS writes the following report for the UK’s Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder.


Knock-kneed or bow-legged
‘Angular limb deformities’ are conformational abnormalities seen most commonly in thoroughbred foals that require early recognition and treatment.


They occur more frequently in front legs, are seen when viewing the foal from the front or back and are broadly categorised into two types – ‘valgus’ and ‘varus’. A valgus conformation is where the limb deviates away from midline, for example, a foal with valgus conformation of its knees is often described as being ‘knock-kneed’. A varus conformation is where the limb deviates towards midline, for example, a foal with varus conformation of its knees is often described as being ‘bow-legged’.


Angular limb deformities occur most commonly at the knee (carpus) but also quite frequently at the fetlock joint or the hock. The degree of the deformity is usually evaluated by repeated visual examination but can also be measured and assessed using x-rays. The main problem is often an imbalance of growth in the growth plates. For example, if the outside of the growth plate just above the knee is growing slower than the inside, then the foal’s leg will deviate away from midline and so develop a carpal valgus conformation – knock-kneed.


Congenital and acquired deformities

These conformational deformities are broadly grouped into congenital or acquired forms, with congenital deformities being present at birth and acquired deformities usually appearing at a few weeks of age.

Congenital abnormalities are caused by either laxity of joint ligaments or incomplete formation of the small bones of the knee or hock. Careful palpation of joints should establish the presence of joint laxity and the conformation of such foals can usually be corrected successfully with conservative management, even in relatively severe cases.


Incomplete formation of the knee or hock bones is typically found in premature foals and so x-rays should be performed as a routine.


Conservative management of angular limb deformities is successful in most foals and, in fact, a degree of carpal valgus conformation is normal in a newborn foal.


Therapy consists of restricting exercise to box rest with a limited turnout period per day, providing a firm bedding and turnout pasture, as well as corrective hoof trimming and, if necessary, the use of glue-on extensions that force the foal to straighten its legs. This allows the growth plates to be stimulated but prevents stress and compression on the affected side of the growth plate. If the affected limb of a newborn foal can be manually ‘straightened’ because it is being caused by joint laxity, then conservative management will usually be successful. More severe cases are treated with splints or limb casts, but these should be used with caution and changed regularly to avoid skin rubs.


Acquired angular limb deformities are caused by asymmetrical bone growth from the growth plate, with one side of the growth plate growing faster than the other. Sometimes the cause of such deformities is not known, but it can be the result of injury to one side of the growth plate, uneven loading on one leg due to lameness of the other leg, inappropriate nutrition (for example, too much nutrition or an incorrect calcium/phosphorous ratio), excessive exercise, or improper foot-trimming.


Whilst affected foals can also be treated conservatively, this is when many foals are booked in for surgery.


Corrective surgery – more now than ever

There are two surgical treatments that should be used for the more severe cases but which are now being used more than ever.


Both techniques depend on continued growth in order to straighten the leg and so should ideally be carried out before the foal is two months old (especially in fetlock deformities) and in severe cases the techniques can be performed together.


The first surgical technique is a periosteal elevation, which is carried out on the side of the growth plate that is not growing fast enough and its aim is to stimulate growth on this side of the growth plate. The outer surface of the bone (the periosteum) is thought to have a restraining influence on growth and by removing a strip of periosteum over the slow-growing side of the growth plate, growth is stimulated. For example, periosteal elevations are performed on the outside of the knee in a foal with carpal valgus, or the inside of the knee in a foal with carpal varus. An inverted ‘T-shaped’ incision is usually made approximately 2.5cm above the growth plate and its maximum effect is seen after approximately two months.


It has a few advantages over the second surgical technique described below in that it is a one-off surgery, it is minimally invasive and there appears to be little risk of over-correction, although some argue that this is because it is not that effective. Indeed, recent research has suggested that foals with the mild deformities currently treated by periosteal elevation generally improve without the need for surgery if treated with box rest and corrective farriery alone.


The second surgical technique works in the opposite way to a periosteal elevation, in that it slows down the side of the growth plate that is growing too fast.


Temporary transphyseal bridging is the insertion of metal implants to slow down

the growth of one side of the growth plate to allow the other side to catch up.


Traditionally, a staple is inserted over the growth plate or two screws are placed either side of the growth plate and either wires or plates join them together.


However, more recently, a new method of inserting a single screw across the growth plate has been developed, as it has the advantage of a better cosmetic result. All of these methods are very effective.


However, the metal implants must be removed as soon as the leg is straight, otherwise over-correction and deviation in the opposite direction may occur.


There is no doubt that, if left untreated, severe angular limb deformities cause big problems for horses and the result is often osteoarthritis of the joints which have been put under excessive pressure by the poorly balanced limb.


Veterinary surgeons have become so proficient at these corrective surgeries that they are becoming very widely used, even for minor conformational abnormalities. Therefore, the possible disadvantages must be discussed.


Are there any downsides to such surgery?

In 2006, Santschi et al reported on their findings from studying the conformation of 199 thoroughbred foals from birth to yearling auction age, and found that knee and fetlock conformations change greatly with foals, generally becoming less carpal valgus and more fetlock varus as they become older.


This could lead the reader to suggest that it may be difficult to ‘correct’ a foal’s conformation to exactly the right degree as its conformation is likely to alter after corrective surgery has had its effect. However, in reality veterinary surgeons are now so good at judging these corrective surgeries that this is rarely a problem. The only significant practical downside of the surgeries seems to be the minimal scars and white hairs that can be left after the procedures, if the breeder is unlucky – although one or two do attempt to fix this with a little boot polish at the sales!


From an auction sale point of view, these corrective surgeries are excellent and have very few disadvantages.


However, the final important issue is whether performing all of these corrective surgeries is good for the racing careers of the horses concerned or, indeed, the breed as a whole.


In 2004, Anderson, McIlwraith and Douay published a paper in the Equine Veterinary Journal on the role of conformation in musculoskeletal problems in the racing thoroughbred, and the highly-respected Professor Wayne McIlwraith presented his findings at the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar at Cheltenham racecourse.

He made two significant points. First, he came to the slightly unexpected conclusion that a degree of carpal valgus, which many are currently ‘correcting’, is actually a good thing and may serve as a protective mechanism for soundness.


Second, he argued that we should try to “manipulate Mother Nature” when we need to and suggested that corrective surgery is not always helpful and can actually contribute to unsoundness.


Widespread use does spark some concerns

In summary, corrective surgeries are excellent procedures for the treatment of extreme angular limb deformities. However, their widespread use leads everyone involved in the thoroughbred industry to have two serious concerns.


First, is it correct to be performing so many surgeries? Second, should vendors be made to disclose which yearlings at the auction sales have had such corrective surgeries?


The second concern is exactly what the North American Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association have been suggesting for some time.

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MATING RECOMMENDATIONS : This is where it all begins...

Broodmare Manager, Annet Becker, with Broodmare Of The Year Aspirant, Cousin Linda, dam of this year’s Cape Flying Championship (Gr.1) Ace, Rebel King and top colt at the NYS, and nightwatch supervisor, Sizwe Ndledla with the dam of Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1) hero, Desert Links (Selborne Park). As Annet said, “It’s a great shot of them both – as well as the mares!”
(Photo : Leigh Wilson)

Our Bloodstock and Broodmare, Foal and Yearling Sales Managers, together with Assistant Managers Richard Hlongwane and Thulani Mnguni, have been scouring the paddocks during the last few weeks, alongside Mick Goss and photographer Leigh Wilson, scrutinizing the weanlings from last season as well as their mothers, with a view to the lengthy deliberations regarding the latter’s stallion mates for the forthcoming year.

This is a painstaking affair, with every detail being noted concerning the mares’ breeding histories, the progeny they’ve already produced, the trainers and the work rider’s views, and now of course, with the benefit of hindsight, we’re looking to the future.

Summerhill farm clients know that over the next few months, they’ll be receiving the first of the proposals from our mating team, whose work spans the wee hours of May, June and July.

There’s a reason why we get so many horses to the races, and why so many train on well into their sixth, seventh and eighth years, and that’s because of the work that gets done in such detail right now.

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PLACENTITIS : Measuring placental thickness in mares

horse fetus“The single most important cause of premature delivery is placentitis.”
(Photo : Tim Flach)

annet beckerAnnet Becker Summerhill Broodmare and Foal Care ManagerImproved diagnostic techniques and advances in the understanding of equine reproductive physiology and pathology have resulted in increased pregnancy rates in mares. In contrast, the incidence of early pregnancy loss has remained fairly constant at a rate of 10-15 %. Pregnancy losses during late gestation (> 5 months) represent an even greater problem for the equine breeding industry. Affected mares will not only fail to produce a foal, but will often have a lower conception rate during the next breeding season.

Pregnancy losses during late gestation could be the result of fetal illness, placental dysfunction, or maternal illness. Monitoring of maternal health and preventive treatments of the pregnant mare against diseases that may cause abortion have been performed routinely for decades. However, monitoring of the placenta during late gestation has only recently gained recognition in equine veterinary medicine.

Premature delivery of a weak or dead foal is devastating to horse owners. Even if they receive the best neonatal care, most of these foals, if they live, never have productive performance careers. The single most important cause of premature delivery is placentitis. It accounts for nearly one-third of late-term abortions and fetal mortality in the first day of life. Placentitis is most commonly caused by bacteria that ascend through the vagina and breach the cervical barrier.

An abnormal thickness and partial separation of the allantochorion from the endometrium has been observed in mares with clinical signs of ascending placentitis based upon transrectal ultrasonography. In advanced stages, the space between the uterus and the placenta is filled with hyperechoic fluid. In a field study on Thoroughbred mares at commercial stud farms, it was concluded that an increased CTUP (combined thickness of the uterus and the placenta) during mid and late gestation, indicates placental failure and pending abortion. None of the mares with normal thickness of the placenta lost their pregnancies, and all mares that aborted had a marked increase of the CTUP or placental detachment. Under practical conditions it was suggested that a CTUP >8 mm between day 120 and 300, >10 mm between day 301 and 330, and >12 mm after day 330 suggests placental failure and pending abortion.

For a while now, we have been measuring the CTUP of all the mares at Summerhill on a bi-monthly basis. Any mares with an increased CTUP are placed on daily antibiotics and are rechecked by the vet a month later to see if there is a decrease in the CTUP. If it has decreased, we suspend her antibiotic treatments, but if it increases she will continue on antibiotics for another month. In the previous years we have done this with all our ‘high risk’ mares with great success – all of them producing live, viable foals. As there is a 10-15% pregnancy loss in normal mares, we feel by checking their placental thickness on a regular basis, we see more mares carry to term and produce live foals.

While transrectal and transabdominal ultrasonographic examination of the placenta is very useful in detecting early signs of some placental pathology, it is important to keep in mind that placental changes resulting in periparturient problems can sometimes be subtle, and may not readily be detected on ultrasonographic examination.

IPI TOMBE foals colt by Giant's Causeway

ipi tombeIpi Tombe winning the 2002 Vodacom Durban July with Kevin Shea aboard
(Photo : Racing South Africa)

Ipi Tombe, the former Noelene Peech and Mike de Kock-trained multiple Group 1 winner who topped the 2004 Tattersalls December Sale when selling to James Delahooke for 850,000gns, has foaled a colt by Giant’s Causeway in Kentucky.

The Giant’s Causeway colt is the third known foal out of the Zimbabwe-bred daughter of Manshood (Mr Prospector), who is owned by Colts Neck Stable, Weisbord and Etkin, and boards at Denali Stud.

Ipi Tombe, foaled 10 October 1998 in the Marondera District of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East, won 12 of her 14 starts in South Africa, USA, UAE and Zimbabwe including Group 1 events such as the South African Fillies Guineas, the Durban July Handicap and the Dubai Duty Free, before retiring with earnings of nearly £900,000.

Interesting news is that Ipi Tombe is booked to visit Kingmambo.


sangoma and lettuceCelebrating a successful first crop

The Irish, the English, the Australians and the Argentineans are all well known for their close identity with horses in general, and with racing in particular. Yet there can be few nations anywhere whose culture is more deeply linked to the horse, and the use of the horse, than that of the Kingdom of Lesotho. The full expression of the Basotho people’s obsession with horses could be no more evident than in their Monarch, King Letsie III’s “detour” to Summerhill this morning, enroute from Maseru to Johannesburg. Anyone familiar with the route will tell you there are much quicker ways of reaching Johannesburg from the Mountain Kingdom, yet His Majesty just had to see his new SOLSKJAER foal, and his new broodmare acquisition.

In fine form, His Majesty and his entourage were guests of the team at lunch, and there’s nothing that makes the Royal heart more jovial than a discussion about horses.

Nobody is more conscious of the impact which the global financial turmoil is having on the world, than we are. Long before its onset, and against the backdrop of spiralling food costs, we embarked on a programme to encourage our people to be as self-sufficient as possible. The first fruits of the new campaign are just being harvested, and nobody’s done better than Ida Nkabinde (one of nine from this family in the service of Summerhill) who arrived with these freshly cut lettuces, all organically produced, of course.

For those who don’t know, Ida is also one of our resident “Sangomas” (traditional healers,) and it seems some of the ancestors were alongside her in this endeavour. Eat your heart out Woolworths!


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).





If ever vindication was needed for Summerhill’s deep conviction on MACHIAVELLIAN as a Sire of Sires, then surely STREET CRY’s two Group One winners in the USA this weekend, was it. His daughter ZENYATTA, remained unbeaten in eight starts in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (Gr1), drawing away by 3.5 lengths, while his two year old son STREET HERO, became this young sire’s eighth Group One winner with just three crops at the races, as he scooted off in the Norfolk Stakes (Gr1), notching his first lifetime victory in the most illustrious company.

Back home, KAHAL continued to sow his own breeze, reaping the whirlwind at the top of the nation’s Sires’ log. KAHAL started out as a little known stallion at an R8,000 service fee, and his mates to date reflect his rather modest beginnings. However, the early achievements of EMPEROR NAPOLEON, BOLD ELLINORE, DESERT LINKS etc, quickly dispelled any notion of ordinariness about this fellow, and he now bestrides racing’s headlines like a stallion colossi in the making.

“If he’d got the mares FORT WOOD and WESTERN WINTER have had, he’d be challenging for the Championship”.

We didn’t say that; but a legend did.

It’s Mike de Kock’s considered opinion (and he should know, having trained four Group One performers by KAHAL), that this is a Champion in the making and with his much improved patronage of the last few seasons, KAHAL should be well on his way. If the foals from the new generation are anything to go by, we’d have to agree.





mullins bay stallion

Mullins Bay
(John Lewis)

To the delight of all the connections as well as the insurers, Lloyds of London, MULLINS BAY and STRONGHOLD have had their first mares tested in foal. Both of the new “boys” on the block have settled into their new role as “superstud” exceptionally well and Greig Muir and his stallion team report that they are doing a sterling job!

MULLINS BAY has impressed all who have laid eyes on him and has been very well supported. Amongst his visitors are Garden Verse (dam of IMBONGI and SPRING GARLAND), Nordic Air (dam of ICY AIR), BRIDAL PATHS (Thekweni Fillies Stakes winner and sister to PICK SIX) and DIGNIFY (Golden Slipper winner and sister to J&B Met winner, ANGUS) to name just a few. He has had support from around the country with mare’s being sent not only by the local Natal studs, but also from the Eastern and Western Cape.

STRONGHOLD is proving exceptionally fertile as he has had a 100% strike rate to date with all of his mares tested in foal. The first of his ‘harem’ confirmed in foal was Deceptive Charm, a royally bred filly by KINGMAMBO out of a stakes winning SADLER’S WELLS mare. STRONGHOLD will be visited by a number of ‘foreigners’ this season as Modraj, a MACHIAVELLIAN mare out of a sister to Urban Sea (dam of non other than the great GALILEO), has been booked to him as well as Nadira (a NASHWAN mare out of a full sister to KAHAL) Also heading his way in the not too distant future will be Choice Field, the dam of G1 Gomma Gomma winner PICK SIX.

These exciting new editions to the Summerhill stallion barn are booking up fast so to avoid disappointment give Linda Norval a call on +27 33 2631314.



STRAIGHT EIGHT... eight foals in one evening!

bouncing foals at summerhill studSummerhill Foals
(Annet Becker)

Ever heard of this? Certainly not at Summerhill. Eight foals in one evening, between 5pm and 1am, eclipses our previous record of six, which we’ve known on four previous occasions.

And the sixteen on the weekend since Friday would constitute an entire season’s crop on some farms, so you can imagine our team will be pretty much “knackered” come December. The record came on Kerry Jack’s watch. A previous veteran of the Broodmare and Foalcare Manager’s portfolio herself, like her successor, Annet Becker, Kerry is a graduate of the Onderstepoort Veterinary School’s Vet Assistants course, so this was “all in a day’s work” for her, though she missed out on another big night at “Bellissimo’s” in the process.




alan and brenda magid with dahlia's guest and her foal

Judge Alan and Brenda Magid with Dahlia’s Guest and her Way West colt
(Grant Norval)

One of our favourite pals, Alan Magid, one-time doyen of the South African judiciary, didn’t take long to visit at the news of the arrival of his sparklingly attractive Way West colt. This fellow arrived on Saturday morning, and at a massive 60kgs, he’s one of biggest foals we’ve seen in a while, certainly as big as any thus far this season. He’s out of the Northern Guest mare, Dahlia’s Guest, and is a half-brother to the top-class Mark Dixon trained filly, Prize Flower (by Muhtafal).

There’s a twist in this tale, and it revolves around Alan’s wife Brenda, who really is the “judge” in this instance. At the 2007 version of the Summerhill Stallion Day, our generous friends were anxious to support the charity auction of stallion services, and after seeing the parade, and finding herself enamoured by the appearance of Way West, Brenda put up her hand in earnest. Bidding beyond the advertised service fee (that’s what charities are about!) and despite the desperate protest of her thrifty husband, Brenda won the day and had the service knocked down to her. The dilemma for the Judge (we speak of the judicial one now,) after that was which of his mares he should use the service for, his inclination being the sister to the winner of the inaugural Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, Umngazi.

But knowing the success Danehill has enjoyed with Northern Dancer-line mares, (Rock Of Gibraltar, Horatio Nelson and Peeping Fawn), our mating committee urged the use of Dahlia’s Guest to Way West.

The photograph tells the rest of the story. We’re hoping this year’s choice of stallions will be left to her ladyship!



New Stallions on the boil : Mohammed goes over the Mountain

stronghold stallionStronghold
(Greig Muir)

It’s always gratifying when breeders travel their mares thousands of kilometers across the mountains to your stallions, but it’s even more satisfying when your new horses are the target of their ambitions. Just this past week, some of the Nation’s leading stud farms have confirmed their bookings, including Ascot Stud, Boland Stud, Gary Player, John Kramer, Hymie Maisel, Bosworth farm, and our erstwhile friends and neighbours John and Beth Brandtner.

At a time when some of our local colleagues are re-examining their strategies, there can be no sounder reaffirmation of what’s available here than the endorsement of people of this stature, bearing in mind that they join a throng of others who had confirmed their bookings much earlier. 

As much as anything, it’s not only a tribute to the stallions themselves , but also to the comparative value they represent.  We are more than proud of our association with these people, who go to such lengths to provide their mares with these opportunities.

As we have so often said in the past, it’s not what you pay that matters.  It’s what you get for your money that really counts.



Summerhill Sires Brochure Launch

summerhill stud staffTarryn Liebenberg, Annet Becker, Douw Coetzee, Robert Mbhele and Prince Mdunjane
(Grant Norval)

This past Friday saw the launch of the 2008/2009 edition of the Summerhill Sires brochure. This is the 20th anniversary of the brochure with Mick Goss at the helm, and the 10th year that Xpressions Advertising & Design has headed up the creative team.

Mick and Cheryl Goss celebrated the occasion with all senior Summerhill, Vuma and Hartford staff in the Summerhill Stud boardroom. Also present were Rob Caskie of Fugitives Drift Lodge and Karen de Haan, previously of Hartford but now also at Fugitives. Karen celebrates her 50th birthday this week - congratulations Karen.

As Felicity Hayward, CEO of Xpressions, presented the first brochures, she mentioned that this year’s edition is really “home-grown”, with significant photographic contributions being made by members of the Summerhill Team. This edition of the Sires brochure is as grand and exciting as we have come to expect, with a moody, textured look and brimming with stories, ideas and tributes. The cover is a work of art in itself; finished with the finest quality matt lamination, gold foiling and spot UV varnish.

Brochures will be mailed to all clients and connections of Summerhill within the next couple of weeks, and we do hope you get months of enjoyment from your original. 

Should you not be on our mailing list and would like your own personal copy, please contact us at



Launch of Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009


Today marks an historic day for Team Summerhill with the official launch this afternoon of the much anticipated, and eagerly awaited, 2008/2009 edition of the Summerhill Sires Brochure.

See our men; Albarahin, Cataloochee, Hobb Alwahtan, Kahal, Malhub, Muhtafal, Mullins Bay, Ravishing, Solskjaer, Stronghold and Way West as they’ve never been seen before, get an insight into the talented and dedicated individuals that make up Team Summerhill and see stunning images of arguably the most beautiful thoroughbred estate in Africa, which we are honoured and privileged to call home.

If you are already on our mailing list, we will be sending you your personal copy of this exquisite publication next week. If you’re not, we invite you to email us your details and we’ll ensure that you don’t miss out :



Ashley McNabb and Milli Miliotis : A Case of Generosity Rewarded

milli miliotis and ashley mcnabb

Milli Miliotis and Ashley McNabb
(Heather Morkel)


The first foal of the new season arrived this weekend in the form of a typically robust, scopey daughter of Kahal weighing in at 60,7kgs. This tale however has a bit of “fairy” to it, and it’s a case of overwhelming generosity being rewarded. At last year’s Summerhill Stallion Day, Ashley McNabb and Milli Miliotis bid a record R90 000 to secure a service to the most popular stallion in the country last season, Kahal, as part of our annual fund-raising for the Al Maktoum School Of Management Excellence, which is due to open at Summerhill next year. This filly was the result, and she’s the daughter of a mare by the name of Climbing Rose, whose story is less extraordinary.

These two guys have been big-hearted supporters of racing for some years now, and Milli Miliotis has a pedigree in the game which goes back generations. However, as business partners, they ventured into racehorse ownership about a decade ago. One of Ashley’s first acquisitions was Climbing Rose, who was a winner of one of the events at the first Steinhoff Family Fun Day at Turffontein, in the days when the prizes were a weekend away at some resort, a lounge suite from Gomma Gomma or a stallion service from Summerhill. A far cry from the hundreds and thousands on offer these days!

In Climbing Rose’s case, the prize came courtesy of Sheikh Hamdan’s open-handed kindness in the form of a cover to Fahal. In the event, the boys swapped that one for another of Sheikh Hamdan’s stallions, Makaarem, and the outcome was a plucky fellow by the name of Makmymate, winner of a couple of races for the pair. In the event, Climbing Rose was sent to  Summerhill for her tryst with Makaarem and she, together with others in the merry band of mares these fellows have since accumulated, has made Summerhill her home.

For the record, Ashley and Milli were the winners of this year’s SA Fillies with Urabamba, a beautifully bred filly by Fort Wood.



It's not the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog.

summerhill stud entrance gatesHome of Team Summerhill
(Nicholas Goss)

In many respects, Summerhill’s fourth consecutive Breeders’ Championship is a triumph for the underdog.

Firstly, history was against us . Only five farms had been tagged with the title in all of recorded history. What’s more, the Premiership had never before come this side of the Drakensberg.

Secondly, we were short in the department that matters most: cash. There was no inheritance here, and no big enterprise behind us.

But what we are rich in, is one of the best farms in the world, and as good a team as you’ll find. Anywhere. It wasn’t always like that though. It’s taken thirty years to assemble this crew, and almost as long to restore the land.

What we have now is the priceless combination for the perfect storm, and our horses are running as if they know it. Week in and week out, those doing duty around the country have shown the lion’s heart, and we’ve just had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.

Yet in this game, more than any other, you need to keep your feet on the ground. Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts, and the belief in what you’re doing that matters.

People need a sacred narrative in life . They must have a sense of greater purpose, and they will find a way to keep the ancestral spirits alive. At Summerhill, it’s the memories of the “Great Ones” that stoke our fires, and as a visitor to the farm, you can’t help feeling like an eavesdropper on a story still being told. The custodianship of all we represent today, belongs to our people. The farm, the enterprise, the success.

Take a bow, Team Summerhill.



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


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

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

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

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

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