team summerhill equusSummerhill team accept award for 2006 Champion BreedersAn audience of more than 500 guests rose as one at last night’s Equus Awards in South Africa as trainer Mike de Kock was announced as Champion Trainer for the 2005/6 season. Whilst his horses accrued local stakes earnings of more than R12m during the past season, De Kock’s international achievements with his Dubai, Hong Kong, Australian, and Singapore campaigners were also recognised - During the 2006 Dubai International Racing Carnival for example he had 48 starters for 10 winners, 10 placings and USD1,171,250 in prize money.

In accepting his Award for the 2005/6 season, De Kock paid tribute to the team that supports him, special mention being made not just of his assistant trainers and stable staff but also his wife Diane who is integrally involved in the stable and breaks in and pre-trains all the De Kock horses.

team summerhill equusSummerhill staff accept award for Breeders of Champion Older Male Sprinter: NHALVINIThe glittering awards ceremony at Johannesburg’s Emperor’s Palace Casino complex was the ‘Night of Nights’ for the South African racing industry and Summerhill was honoured to be presented with the Champion Breeder Trophy for the second year running. 14 staff were on hand to accept the award prompting presenter Graeme Hawkins to quip “one staff member for every mare”. The farm’s resident sire MUHTAFAL sired the Champion 3YO Sprinter: LET’S ROCK ‘N ROLL; the farm also bred the Champion older sprinter (male): NHLAVINI. In an interesting twist, the Summerhill bred VEILED ESSENCE went head-to-head with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s mare CANDY CRITIC for the Champion Female Stayer award. CANDY CRITIC took the honours and we congratulate the Sheikh (who stands Hobb Alwahtan at Summerhill) on this wonderful achievement.

Meanwhile the filly that currently has everyone talking - the Sean Tarry trained sprint sensation NATIONAL COLOUR- won the 3YO sprinter category award as well as sharing the coveted Horse of the Year Award with Brazilian import ILHA DA VITORIA. Martin Talty, manager of the Dubai Racing Club’s International Department remains confident that NATIONAL COLOUR will campaign in Dubai for the 2007 International Carnival, a fact that trainer Sean Tarry confirmed last night is a “distinct possibility”.

Cape-based breeder Mr H F Winterbach - who bred full sisters PERFECT PROMISE and IRRIDESCENCE - won the ‘Breeder, international achievement’ award and also collected the Broodmare of the Year Award. PERFECT PROMISE and IRRIDESCENCE are both Group 1 winners and both campaigned in Dubai this season. Destined to meet on World Cup Night, Irrididescence was, of course, scratched just prior to the start of the USD$5m Gr1 Dubai Duty Free after a freak paddock accident. She made amends a few weeks later when she went on to win the Gr 1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong.

One of South Africa’s best known and most successful owner-breeders - Mary Slack - achieved an almost clean sweep of the evening awards, and in exciting news for South African racing, will campaign her first horse in Dubai in 2007 (for the Mike De Kock stable).

Equus awards winners were:

Horse of the year: Ilha Da Vitoria and National Colour (joint-winners)

Champion owner: Mary Slack

Champion trainer: Mike de Kock

Champion jockey: Mark Khan

Champion breeder: Summerhill Stud

Champion stallion: Western Winter

Broodmare of the year: Meretorius

Apprentice of the year: Gavin Lerena

Work rider of the year: Jackson Feni

Champion stayer — male: Elusive Fort

Champion stayer — female: Candy Critic

Champion older middle-distance — male: Equal Image

Champion older middle distance — female: Ilha Da Vitoria

Champion older sprinter — male: Nhlavini

Champion older sprinter — female: Overarching

Champion three-year-old classic horse — male: Eyeofthetiger

Champion three-year-old classic horse — female: Bad Girl Runs

Champion three-year-old sprinter — male: Let’s Rock ‘N Roll

Champion three-year-old sprinter — female: National Colour

Champion two-year-old colt: Fearless and Kildonan

Champion two-year-old filly: Asylum Seeker

Outstanding breeder achievement: Wilgerbosdrift

Outstanding stallion achievement: Count du Bois

Breeder, international achievement: H F Winterbach.