The following article appeared in The Sporting Post Friday 14 July 2006 p7.
It’s little wonder that Summerhill Stud’s Annual Stallion Day has been dubbed ‘Racing’s Biggest Day Out’. Sunday 2 July saw a record number of guests converge on the Midlands property for an afternoon of famed Summerhill hospitality under perfect winter skies.
King Letsi III of Lesotho headed this year’s list of dignitaries, and the combined passports of the international delegates read something akin to an atlas index with Asia, Australia, Dubai, Europe, New Zealand, North America, South America and the United Kingdom all represented. The gathering also resembled an AGM of the Western Cape Breeders Association with 44 breeders in attendance, as well as large numbers of local owners, breeders, trainers and racing administrators from around the country.
Two of the new sires that had already arrived at the property - Cataloochie and Solskjaer – headed the stallion parade. The pair was ceremoniously welcomed to their new home with a full Honour Guard amidst strains of a traditional Zulu choral group and chants of “Shosholoza”.
New stallion principals were then introduced: Dr Barry Clements (Solksjaer), Mr and Mrs Robert Muir (Cataloochie), and Mohammed Khaleel [personal envoy of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum] (Hobb Alwahtan). John Messara (Way West) had already made his acquaintance with local breeders 2 weeks prior.
One of the features of the day was the Summerhill stallion nomination charity auction to raise scholarship money for the South African Jockey Academy. Bidding was fierce across the board and with Graeme Hawkins as auctioneer, R303,000 was raised to enhance the careers of a number of previously disadvantaged riders. One hopes that some of these young men and women will go on to emulate the talents of their famous predecessors who include include Anton Marcus, Basil Marcus, Douglas Whyte, Michael Roberts, Felix Coetzee, Bartie Leisher, Jeff Lloyd, Weichong Marwing, and Piere Strydom.
Chris Kennard, Financial Director of HH Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud (a long time supporter of Summerhill Stud) used the opportunity of the Stallion Day to pass on a message of thanks to all South African breeders who “have shared our commitment and investment in the South African, and in particular, the Kwa Zulu Natal breeding and racing Industry.” He went on to say “As we all know success in this business always has an element of a gamble and comes only from a blend of persistence, luck and competitive edge. We have supplied the persistence, the Almighty the luck and we have had to rely on Summerhill’s outstanding professional team for the edge. We look forward to another ten years of shared success.”
In an impromptu speech at the end of the proceedings TBA Chairman Altus Joubert commended the Summerhill team on a Stallion Day which was comparable with the best of its kind in the world. He praised Summerhill for developing a world class breeding facility of which South Africa could be proud and singled out their hospitality venture Hartford House, for the international acclaim it had brought to the country.