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Beach Beauty to Visit The Duke

Drakenstein Stud announced yesterday that Equus Champion Older Female and Horse Of The Year nominated Beach Beauty will visit European Champion Older Horse and current leading sire by 3rd crop stakes winners Duke Of Marmalade.





The resilience of elite broodmare valuations during the worst of the crash demonstrated how these stock assets now rank with high-end art as commodities of monetary value beyond the comprehension of horse-dealers like me, purely because their collectibility now ranks up there with Warhol, Beatles memorabilia and stamps.


The First Foaling Group


The First Foaling Group

Every year before the foaling season starts, our main foaling barn as well as the other barns that will be used for stabling, are scrubbed down and disinfected. Once the stables are sparkling clean the first group of mares are brought in and bathed before being moved into their stables.


Time To Strike


Time To Strike

The markets tell you though that these times are the font of all opportunity, and at Summerhill, whether you ascribe it to luck or to reckless optimism, we’ve always benefited from these opportunities.


A Day To Remember


A Day To Remember

In the 1980s I had a couple of years trying to help Robert Sangster with his mating plans. It wasn’t an easy job, because he had mares in both hemispheres, and he had an awful lot of mares who, quite clearly, weren’t very good.


The Importance Of Broodmare Sires

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The Importance Of Broodmare Sires

How important is the broodmare sire? When looking at such modern day champions as Horse Chestnut and Dynasty (out of mares by Col Pickering and Commodore Blake respectively), it is easy to believe that the broodmare sire pays little part in the pedigree, as both the aforementioned horses are out of mares by failed stallions.

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Do good racemares make good broodmares?


Do good racemares make good broodmares?

Over the years, there have been a number of great broodmares, who exhibited very little ability on the track. However, as is to be expected, a number of top-class mares also became great broodmares. Occasionally exceptional racemares prove very disappointing at stud, for a variety of reasons. So what is a better indicator of future broodmare class - racing ability or pedigree?


On Her Toes goes Barefoot


On Her Toes goes Barefoot

I consider her one of the best broodmare prospects we’ve ever sent to stud, because not only could she run, but she is a real looker, she is the right size, she is perfectly balanced and she has a very good pedigree with lots of quality close up - Barry Irwin


Value In The Older Broodmare

Value In The Older Broodmare

Many buyers are prejudiced against buying old broodmares, believing that their progeny are somehow genetically lower in quality than their earlier siblings. Unlike stallions, who produce their sperm ‘on the run’, mares are born with all their eggs on board. In many cases, the quality of the sperm of old stallions can diminish, however a mare’s ova are not affected by the age of the mare.

DEVON AIR’S Group 1 winning relative comes to Stud

She’s On Fire arrives at Summerhill Stud
(Photo : Leigh Wilson)


Durban July watchers will remember with great affection the escapades of the fine mare, Devon Air, who took Africa’s greatest horse race end-to-end, and then proceeded to pulverize a quality field in the Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1) over the marathon two mile trip at the Greyville circuit a month later. Toiling behind Devon Air on the first Saturday in July was a Summerhill-bred, Versailles, so for us, there was added significance in this grand dame’s victory.

This week, a Group One winning granddaughter (by Jet Master out of Cream Of The Crop, by Concertino out of Devon Air) arrived back for her new career at stud. 6:30pm Sunday evening, to be precise.

We need to be precise about these things, because these are momentous events on stud farms. There are precious few horses in the world that carry the title of “Group One winner”, and She’s On Fire is one of those, having distinguished herself not only at that level among her own sex, but having put up Grade One performances against the colts as well, notably in last year’s renewal of Africa’s richest race, the Gomma Gomma Challenge (Gr.1).

We’ve written about Team Valor’s Barry Irwin and his “picking” talents before and anyone looking at the photograph of She’s On Fire on arrival, will know what we ‘re talking about. And when they come from Ormond Ferraris you can see the hand of a maestro.

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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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sir clement freudSir Clement Freud
1924 - 2009
(Photo : NY Times)

The world has already lamented the loss last week of the adventurer, writer and celebrated raconteur, Sir Clement Freud. We have our own recollections of a visit which entertained us endlessly 20 years ago, when he was a personal guest of the Goss family whilst they were still living at Hartford House.

Sir Clement’s appreciation of his visit was echoed in the most beautiful statement about Hartford House and Summerhill Stud. “From there you drive towards Giant’s Castle in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains and 5kms southwest is a handsome drive, lined by trees and decorated with potted conifers, that leads to one of the country’s most beautiful houses. You have arrived”. “Let us return to Summerhill, which is so beautiful that if you had a broodmare you loved it would be downright cruel to send her anywhere else”.

Following is a personal tribute by Derek Taylor, published in the Sunday Tribune.

The host of a fairly uproarious publisher’s party introduced me to Freud – a wit, racecourse addict, chef-patron, cabaret manager, member of the House of Commons and grandson of Sigmund Freud – adding I was from Australia.

Clem, already practising his concerned, lugubrious bloodhound expression although his too-young dewlaps weren’t yet up to it, said sympathetically, “I’m so sorry, but your secret will be safe with me.”

We became friends and almost every time I went through London since, we managed a lunch or an evening of cheerfully libellous accounts of current scandals and politics.

Clem died last week – at his desk, working well into his 80’s, still working hard – and our world is the poorer for his exit.

Thousands of South Africans will remember him as the mordant voice of the BBC radio comedy Just A Minute. For many of its record 41-year run, the show was re-broadcast in SA and around 20 other countries.

Sir Clement Freud MP – as he become known after serving in three successive parliaments – had recorded his last episode of Just A Minute 10 days before he died.

One of his repetitive boasts was he kept his jokes out of his work in the House of Commons as a Liberal Party member.

His Proudest claim was he helped create the Monty Python comedy team. John Cleese and the others had all known or known of each other when members of the Cambridge University Footlights society.

But it only dawned on them to work together after Clement had got them to appear in the cabaret he ran in his nightclub.

This showplace for young and original talent above the Royal Court Theatre also served rather good food : while waiting to be called-up for military service in 1942, Clement found a job as an apprentice chef at the Dorchester Hotel in Park lane, aged 16.

He wrote a successful book, Freud On Food, which contained the immortal line : “The aphrodisiac reputation of the oyster is overrated : the last time I had half a dozen only four of them worked.”

Among his hints for social success and economy was the suggestion that you roasted a couple of coffee beans in a frying pan to release their aroma into the dining-room – while you made the instant coffee.

His children’s book, The Grimble, which didn’t do well when it was published, was later praised as “a masterpiece” by J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter bestsellers.

This “ultimate immigrant Englishman”, as he once described himself to me, was born in Berlin and arrived in England when Grandfather Sigmund sized up the Nazis’ lethal anti-semitism and escaped with his family to London in 1933.

“We got away early to avoid the rush,” Clement told me.

Much of his self-deprecating humour stems from that frightened 12-year-old boy from Berlin, taken to England without and English to his name.

And from his assimilation in a country not itself short of anti-semitism in polite circles – as Sir Oswald Moseley, leader of the British Union of Fascists demonstrated before he was locked up for World War II.

Clement served with the Royal Ulster Rifles and, after the war, was a liaison officer at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Becoming an Anglican when he married Jill Raymond, an actress, they had five children and 17 grandchildren. Jill still runs a successful theatre company at 78.

Clement always protested that he didn’t know his world-famous grandfather well, but he remembered being taken to tea with him in Hampstead and “he was a good grandfather – he never forgot my birthdays.”

I once asked him if he had ever been tempted to follow in Sigmund’s footsteps by becoming a psychiatrist. “Good God, no,” he said. “Have you ever read any of that stuff? I got through a couple of pages of it once. Most unhealthy.”

Towards the end of his life, Clem turned his jokes towards death. His main regret, he told interviewers, was Spike Milligan had beaten him to the epitaph : “I told you I was ill”. Clem had settled on “Best before… (the date of his death).”

Japan Breeding Industry shows dramatic downsizing

Agnes Tachyon
(Photo : Mikiko Ueda)

In tandem with a decline in the economy, the breeding industry shows a 34% drop in the number of mares being bred since the peak of 1992.


Michele MacDonald writes in Owner Breeder that in a remarkably parallel arc to the grim economic downturn, breeding in Japan has contracted. With statistics showing that Japan’s economy shrunk at the end of 2008 more than at any time since 1974, the Japan Racing Association reported that the nation’s registered foal crop was only about 6,800, which marks the lowest number since 1974.

Since Japan produced 10,309 foals to hit its peak in 1992, production has plunged 34%. The number of stallions has also fallen by more than half; 603 in 1991, the year the largest foal crop was conceived, to 281 in 2008.


Of that group, 104, or 37%, had been imported, with breeders relying on America more than any other country. Perhaps most interestingly, ten of the 281 stallions standing in Japan last year covered about one-fifth of the nation’s 11,360 mares that were bred, and each of those ten, all of whom stood at the Yoshida family’s Shadai Stallion Station, was bred to more than 200 mares.


Six of the ten most active stallions are sons of Sunday Silence, including the three leaders, Agnes Tachyon, Daiwa Major and Fuji Kiseki, thus further concentrating the blood of Japan’s all-time most significant sire, whose daughters also remain a big part of the breeding pool.


Agnes Tachyon has made a bid to be his sire’s successor after earning his first leading sire title in 2008, with Fuji Kiseki second in last year’s rankings by progeny earnings.


However, some challengers are emerging, with Japanese Derby winner King Kamehameha ranking as leading freshman sire last year and Symboli Kris S, the leading first-year sire of 2007, standing atop Japan’s 2009 general sire list up to early March.

SUNDAY SILENCE : The New Buzzword

sunday silence stallionSunday Silence
(Photo : Pagesperso-Orange)

Japan’s greatest sire, Sunday Silence, is making his presence felt more than ever in Europe, with another two sons due to stand there this season. Legolas is headed for France, as is Bourne King, a Grade Two placed maternal grandson of Sun Princess and a half brother to Japanese Derby winner, Fusaichi Concorde. They join Agnes Kamikaze, Great Journey, Millennium Deo, Samson Happy and Rose and Cavalier among other sons of Sunday Silence standing in France, and they follow the departure of Divine Light, sire of last year’s 1000 Guineas heroine, Natagora in his first European-bred crop. Divine Light was prematurely sold to the Turkish Jockey Club, a major coup for that jurisdiction.

What would South Africa give for a son of one of history’s greatest stallions? Watch this space.


Typhoon Tracy winning the 2009 Coolmore Classic G1

Sometimes, just sometimes, a horse comes along that restores a purist’s faith in excellence. Typhoon Tracy is just such a living, breathing example of excellence. On Saturday she maintained her unbeaten record (5 wins from 5 starts) in her toughest test to date when tackling the older mares in the Coolmore Classic G1.

That she did it the hard way, making most of the running in this 1500m test, which merely adds courage to the class she showed in coming back to defeat the New Zealand Group 1 winner Culminate (Elnadim) after being headed momentarily in the straight. Even allowing for the five kilograms she was getting from the older mare, this was a terrific performance from Typhoon Tracy, trained at Caulfield by Peter Moody.

Typhoon Tracy is Vinery stallion Red Ransom’s 11th Group One winner. Her dam is the Last Tycoon mare Tracey’s Element (trained by David Payne), who raced with distinction in South Africa, winning eleven times, including a quartet at Gr.1 level.


summerhill tractor (michael nefdt)Organic Integrity
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“Agricultural Eccentricity

We concluded our last episode on the “Mating Game” with the betrayal of a confidence, or put another way, with something of a presumption: declaring Lady Chryss O’ Reilly a kindred spirit. Truth is, the O’ Reilly’s don’t only have their breeding philosophies in common with us; they also share a deep-seated attachment to South Africa. Outside of Ireland, they have more homes here than anywhere else.

But for the best evidence of the value of what we had to say of our reliance on stockmanship as the optimal tool in the design of a mating, you need only look at the National Breeder’s Log, where Summerhill’s boldest pursuer is Lionel Cohen. A revered horseman if ever there was one, he’s another with something in common with the odd one among us: his computer illiteracy! Lionel’s Odessa Stud is nothing if it isn’t driven by a consummate professional, whose best advertisements most times have been bred the less conventional way, with stock of lesser commercial fashion.

In a world in which numbers are fundamental to championships, you might be forgiven for thinking the breeding of racehorses has become something of a production line, and while this is obviously true in many parts of the world, at Summerhill we still pride ourselves on the fact that with us, it remains an art. Talking of art, we quickly realised in our business model, that this was another pillar on which we could separate ourselves, by adopting a course that was off most radar screens. In episode two, “Defining The Job”, we spoke of the need to employ specialists in every division, and that most times in the horse breeding world, agriculture is a rather neglected area of activity.

It’s one thing getting the mating right, it’s another altogether sustaining the pregnancy in the healthiest and most productive circumstances, and then, post-delivery, providing an environment in which the foal is able to achieve its full genetic potential.

Our observations of the way things were being done on horse farms in most parts of the world (including here at home,) led us to the conclusion that, for the most part, this was an area where we could separate ourselves from the field. The first thing was to employ the best agriculturalist our money could buy, but in the process we needed to find someone who was still fresh and open to new ideas, unburdened by the baggage that so often besets a conservative community, when it comes to change.

The reason was, we were about to embark on an altogether untravelled road, and what we were about to do was in the nature of a revolution, certainly in the horse business.

Many of our lessons came by trial and error (we’ve paid the school fees!), but the one thing we’d learnt in our time at Summerhill, was that repeating mistakes was a costly business. So our powers of observation grew sharper each time we entered a cul-de-sac of no return, and in the fullness of time, not only did nature begin to reveal herself to us in all her glory, but the folly in trying to beat her became abundantly evident.

The end of World War II heralded the fertilizer revolution, coinciding with the development of serious tractor power. The new convention involved ploughing on a broad scale, and the application of fertilizers brought about a multiplying of yields on a scale hitherto unknown. Let’s not forget, the fertilizer business was born out of the explosives industry, which had to find a means of redeploying its products with the ending of hostilities. Agriculture provided the perfect place. What nobody told us, was that the regular pulverising of soils and its constant doctoring with synthetic stimulants was not a sustainable practice. Inevitably, we found our soils were beginning to resist the rigours of ploughing, and like a drug addict, they were drawing in ever-growing quantities of fertilizer, just to uphold the yields of years gone by.

And so we discovered what nature could do for us. We resorted to recycling our bedding through a composting plant, balancing of our soils through natural minerals and trace elements, and restoring the original integrity of the soil. No longer the impermeable, hard-baked crust that took a ripper to break it at the onset of the planting season; no more the outrageous quantities (at what cost?) of fertilizer, and countless applications of insecticides and herbicides. No, here we were, returning to our beginnings with composts, limes, rock phosphates, nitrogenous legumes, natural worm remedies and a “No’” sign across anything pretending to look like a toxic spray.

Cattle were introduced almost twenty years ago to combat the parasites that pervade the horse world, to pick up the ticks and convert the straw bedding into their own form of compost. The natural world is finely balanced by the variety in its multitude of species, and in the interplay between cattle and horses, there is something resembling the wildebeest and the zebra in the wilds. No wonder nature works.

If you’d come to Summerhill with a penotrometer six or seven years into this programme, and thrust it into a typical soil crust in winter, it might have gone, at best, some four inches down. Today, since the tilth or crumble of the soil has reverted to what nature originally intended, in many cases, the penotrometer will sink to the handle, almost a metre into the ground. Imagine the implications.

The earthworms are back, the dung beetles are peddling their trade, and instead of rushing away across its surface, water percolates down into what was once a parched earth, enhancing its retention and in its interaction with the new lungs of the soil, it promotes the existence of micro organisms. A new-found religion, it has to be said, and what a difference it’s made to life on the farm.

There are those that believe we must be sleeping with fairies at Summerhill, and that what we’re up to, boarders on what some regard as eccentric. If doing things differently means being eccentric, so be it. Truth is, eccentricity has always abounded where strength of character has abounded; the concentration of eccentricity in society has generally been proportional to the concentration of genius, mental vigour and moral courage. That so few dare to be eccentric these days, marks the chief danger of our time. But that suits us, because our “eccentricity” is obviously what sets us apart.

A recent estimate of the birthweights of foals at Summerhill reveals an average increase of between 5-6 kgs over those of less than a decade ago, while the incidence of loss through conventional disease has been stringently curtailed. The levels of natural immunity in our horse population, has been considerably enhanced, with one exception.

Two years ago we encountered the first occurrence of salmonella at Summerhill. Those who know it, will tell you it’s lethal. Yet, for all the wonders of modern medicine, and despite the application of the fanciest of drugs and the most stringent of bio-security measures to control the disease, it was only a resort to a natural remedy that restored us to normality.

Salmonella is a bacterial disease, and in a naïve environment (one which has never previously known it,) it is apt to spread like wildfire. Our horses and our environment had never before been challenged. Do what you want with all the antibiotics, washes, rinses, power hoses, movement curtailments, none of these on their own or in their collective might, are entirely effective in the eye of such a storm. In the end, we found our solace in a natural antidote.

Again it was about restoring the balance, and we sought the assistance of “good” bacteria to counter the effects of the “bad”. Almost instantly, we noticed the turnaround. To our knowledge, this was a ground-breaking “world first”, never before employed in our discipline, yet it was all so simple, and made so much sense. Thank you, eccentricity!

Of course, there have been other issues of influence in Summerhill’s four consecutive Breeders’ Championships, and each of them accounts for an increment of little more than 5-10% in terms of improvement. This though, was the beginning of an agricultural revolution for us, where our understanding of and our alliance with nature, prevailed over the previous revolution. Seeing it at work, and knowing its benefits, has been as satisfying as anything we’ve done here.

trowel and bricksClick here to read :

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.


urban seaUrban Sea
(Photo : Irish National Stud)

URBAN SEA, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine and mother to Sadler’s Wells’ best racing son and European leading Sire, Galileo, has died during foaling complications at the Irish National Stud. Urban Sea gave birth to a colt by Invincible Spirit who has been placed with a nurse mare.

The French filly, Urban Sea, was bred by Paul de Moussac’s Marystead Farm and was foaled in Kentucky in 1989. Her sire was Miswaki, a son of the highly influential Mr Prospector.

Urban Sea had a competitive racing career which started as a two-year-old in 1991 and included victories in the Prix de la Seine, Challenge d’Or Piaget, Prix Exbury (Gr3), Prix d’Harcourt (Gr2), Prix Gontaut-Biron (Gr3) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr1), where she defeated fourteen Group 1 winners, before a fetlock injury retired her to stud as a five-year-old in 1994.

After retiring to stud in Ireland, Urban Sea was soon to became one of the world’s most successful broodmares. Her first foal by Bering, born in 1996, went on to win the 1999 Gallinule Stakes (Gr3) and her 1997 filly by Lammtarra was to fetch the highest price ever paid for a yearling at the 1998 Deauville Sales, a staggering EUR1,500,000.

Huge success began when Urban Sea’s owner, David Tsui, bred Urban Sea with Coolmore’s Sadler’s Wells, the result was a colt named Galileo. Galileo went on to win the Epsom Derby (Gr1), the first progeny of Sadler’s Wells to do so, the Irish Derby (Gr1) and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr1) before being voted European Champion Three-Year-Old in 2001. We all know the success of Galileo as a sire today.

Urban Sea was bred again to Sadler’s Wells resulting in Black Sam Bellamy, winner of the Gran Premio del Jockey Club (Gr1) and the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Gr1).

In 2002 Urban Sea foaled a filly by Giant’s Causeway, named My Typhoon, who went on to fetch a record US$2,955,000 at the December Tattersalls Sale. My Typhoon has subsequently won several US Stakes races including the Diana Handicap (Gr1).

The influence of Urban Sea on the world of thoroughbred racing has spanned almost two decades and the class of this broodmare will be sorely missed.

The Summerhill team extend our sincere condolences.

NB : On a positive note and of interest is to the local market is that Lot 483 on our National Yearling Sales Draft is a Malhub filly who comes from the female line of Urban Sea. The filly is a first foal out of Modraj (By Machiavellian) out of a half sister to Darley’s King’s Best and Urban Sea.

Click here to view the pedigree of Lot 483

The Danehill affinity for Northern Dancer-line mares

northern dancerNorthern Dancer
(Painting : Richard Reeves)


Readers of the Summerhill Sires brochure for 2008/9 and those that use the mating guidelines on our website, will recall us banging on about the Danehill affinity for Northern Dancer-line mares, and how many good horses have flowed from this “nick”. Of course, we need to remember that while Danehill himself was a son of Danzig (by Northern Dancer,) he carries in his female line yet another strain of the Emperor’s “blood”. Indeed, he is a member of the self-same female family (of Northern Dancer), and while that’s no guarantee of an affinity, the fact is, the Danehills are typically big, strong horses who generally complement the very feminine, high quality females descending from the strain.

This past weekend, we were reminded of the potency of this cross when the winner of the Arrowfield Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr.1), Australia’s most famous “stallion maker”, was taken out by a son of Exceed And Excel. In common with some of Danehill’s most famous racing progeny, Rock Of Gibraltar (Be My Guest mare), Desert King (Sabaah), Peeping Fawn and Horatio Nelson (both Sadler’s Wells), Exceed And Excel was spawned by a daughter of Lomond, Northern Dancer’s English 2000 Guineas winning brother to Seattle Slew.

With the biggest concentration of Northern Dancer blood in its female herd in South Africa, and so many breeders’ preoccupations with outcrossing, you might have thought that in the presence at Summerhill of the largest assembly of quality racing sons of Danehill on the African continent, we might’ve been foolhardy in overdoing the concentration of this blood on the property. The answer is endorsed in the events of this last weekend. It’s a comfort to see this approach to the production of quality racehorses, is working so well.

Watch Reward For Effort winning the Arrowfield Blue Diamond Stakes 2009