It’s a hundred and sixteen years since the turn of the nineteenth century, and in that time only eight entities have aspired to the title of Champion Breeder in South Africa, which makes it the tightest-held premiership in all of racing. That Summerhill should’ve arrived at its tenth title in twelve years through a new earnings record with hardly a “Big Five” sire in sight, tell us that besides luck, there must’ve been other factors at work. We can only marvel at the efforts of our people, the generosity of the land, and the contribution of the “boys” in the stallion barn.
"It’s never easy to admit to the ravages of age, so I’ll confine myself to a confession that horses have been a part of my life since the day I was born, and that this is my 40th year in the commercial stud business." - Mick Goss / Summerhill CEO
The old adage “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, has never been truer. Breeding racehorses is as competitive now as it’s ever been, which means that to play a winning hand, you need to hold the aces. All of them.
At the time, Willow Magic’s father, Dubawi, was an unknown quantity, the son of a largely disappointing Dubai Millennium. Nobody had the slightest inkling then that by 2015, Dubawi would be the fastest stallion on either side of the Atlantic to register 50 Group winners. Ever.
More than once, Markus Jooste has acknowledged the role of Summerhill in floating his “breeding” boat, and while in Klawervlei, the former Champion Breeders had spawned a Gulliver in their own Lilliput, Act Of War’s occupation of his new stall in KwaZulu-Natal not only marks a vote of faith in the region’s breeding community, but he also represents the salivating prospect of accessing one of the best-performed sons of one of history’s best stallions.
I’ve had to make some hard decisions in my life, one of which was buying Summerhill in the days when I was penniless, the other exchanging our family home in Hillcrest for Hartford at a precarious time in South Africa’s political history and giving up a rewarding life in law. There have been many others, but the most painful of all was letting Visionaire go on the weekend. He is not only our and the province’s flagship stallion, but he’s a lovable character to whom every last soul on the farm has an attachment. Mick Goss / Summerhill CEO
We’re not the only ones lamenting the early demise of Giant’s Causeway’s best racing son of 2013, Await The Dawn. There’s an old saying about familiarity breeding contempt, and while contempt is much too strong a word in this context, pedigree guru Andrew Caulfield was right to say that in the racing game “familiarity often unravels into boredom”. Time and again we see the elder statesmen of the stallion landscape coming out second-best in the popularity stakes against their “hot” young rivals, most of whom never come close to emulating the old boys’ achievements. In this case, he had in mind the 19 year-old Giant’s Causeway.
Intergalactic’s victory over some of Joburg’s best just reminded us. Rabada, Champagne Haze, Heaps Of Fun, Witchcraft, Africa Rising, Miss Turbo, Unagi and Copper Pot. To a man and a woman, all Classic performers or Classic aspirants. CTS Ready To Run Sale: 24th & 25th November.
You have to love this story just as much as you love the way Chris McGrath tells it. His favourite story of the week is also a perfect story for the time of year; a time when all of us, the dreamers, and the cynics, and everyone in between, follow each new yearling round the ring much as gamblers do the ball bouncing round the roulette wheel. Of course, the business needs the guys who pile millions on odd-or-even, red-or-black. But it also needs them to watch in bemusement, from time to time, as their chips are scooped by the fellow who has staked his modest all at far more precarious odds. The ball bounces, wobbles, and finally snags into a numbered groove: the wrong colour for many, but exactly the right number for one. And, because this game calls for skill as well as luck, that man will often turn out to be Bobby O'Ryan.
If there’s one fellow attendees at the world’s biggest gathering of our sports aficionados that doesn’t need an introduction, it is Andrew Harding, Director, Racing Authority of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and convenor of the Asian Racing Conference.
Steeped in more than 140 years of history, South Africa’s Summerhill Stud, located about two hours west of Durban on the eastern side of the country (930 miles from Cape Town), is by any definition a powerhouse.
Described by Arqana's leading vendor Henri Bozo as the “stallion of the century,” Galileo snatched back the spotlight from his outstanding son Frankel at Arqana on Monday when two fillies collectively brought more than €2-million within minutes of each other.
It’s difficult to imagine any other place quite like it. When Summerhill first aspired to the coveted title of South Africa’s Champion Breeder, we became only the sixth entity in history to do so; little did the team know then, that we’d be enjoying the tenth renewal of this coveted title in 2016.