The latest Summerhill newsletter from Mick Goss.
This is a lengthy epistle, I’m afraid, but it’s worth reading, believe me!
Our last newsletter came shortly after a record breaking National Yearling Sale, and that momentum has sustained itself through the KZN Yearling sales, and the various broodmare sales we’ve attended of late. World markets in bloodstock continue to spiral, and it seems as if thoroughbreds have become the currency of anyone who has a couple of bob in the way of disposable income. As a result, we can look forward to the Ready to Run sale which is scheduled for early November, with some confidence, provided the Rand doesn’t get too far out of bed, and interest rates remain reasonably stable. Oil seems to be a wildcard.
When we planned for the current financial year, we set ourselves several major objectives:
1. Finding a major sponsor for the Ready to Run sale, and developing the richest race dedicated solely to graduates of a Ready to Run sale in the world.
2. Converting our technology marketing division into a world leader.
3. Acquiring internationally-bred horses for clients and the farm for resale in the local market, for as long as the Rand’s strength maintains a window of opportunity.
Last week, Bloodstock SA announced the Emperor’s Palace as the founding sponsor for the RTR sale, and that The Emperor’s Palace Ready to Run Cup (restricted to graduates of this years sale) will be contested for the first time in November 2007, for a guaranteed stake of R400 000. An added sweepstake means that in all likelihood, the total value of the race will exceed R500 000 (present value of the richest Two Year Old prize in South Africa) and while it will cost us R2 000 to subscribe each entry, the added value this event should bring to the horses on the sale, will mean we ought to get the entry costs back several times over. Of course, Summerhill’s customers have the advantage of having some 75% of the sale’s candidates, so it’s conceivable we’ll be running against one another come November 2007.
As far as the development of our technology marketing is concerned, you may recall our mentioning that we had acquired the services of Katrina Partridge, an internationally recognised columnist. Katrina has developed a renown in the I.T. sector in the world of thoroughbreds, where she assists in the promotion of the Dubai World Cup and Hong Kong International Racing Festivals. In the short while she has been on board, we have seen a 300% spike in our website “hits”, and her “blog” on the website is already attracting very significant traffic. You’d want to go in and have a look as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The URL is http://blog.summerhill.co.za.
As for the third initiative, we visited the Australian sales at the Gold Coast in June, and acquired seven choicely bred weanlings for our regular investment partnerships, which will be recycled at local sales next year. Because we were shopping at the better end of the market (they included the progeny of Danehill Dancer, Rock of Gibraltor, Hussonet, Hawk Wing and Dubai Destination) they didn’t come cheaply. But then of course, one would expect them to sell at the better end of our market in turn, and we felt it was an opportunity we couldn’t miss because of the Rand’s strength at the time. For as long as this gap is open, we will revisit the strategy, so anyone wishing to join us in January is entirely welcome. The idea is to buy yearlings then (as opposed to weanlings) as the holding time (& hence the risk) is shorter.
Yesterday marked the end of the racing year, and we’re delighted to report that Summerhill has once again taken the Breeders’ Championship with record earnings and by a record margin. We owe this to a phenomenal team, the best customers in the world, a great environment, and a good bit of luck. Our sincerest thanks and congratulations to all our contributors.
As we write, the first foals are arriving and we are expecting a real quality crop. The genetics department is stronger than ever, we’re doing things out on the farm better than at any time in our prior history, and we’re bullish in our expectations. To add to all the excitement, we are very fortunate to be associated with four highly credentialled new stallion arrivals in Solskjaer, Way West, Hobb Alwahtan and Cataloochee.
All these horses were introduced at our recent Stallion Day, (which the press labeled “SOUTH AFRICAN RACING’S GREATEST DAY OUT”!), and while we might be flattering ourselves in agreeing with them, it was very nice of them to say so! Not far short of 600 people turned up for the day, headed by King Letsi III of Lesotho, and what a day it was, more than R300 000 being raised for the South African Racing and Equestrian Academy’s scholarship foundation for the previously disadvantaged community. That equates to something of the order of ten annual bursaries, and will make a considerable difference to the lives of people who might never have dreamt it would happen to them.
Finally, it is with sadness that we bid farewell to Kerry Jack, who for several years time has served as our Broodmare and Sales manager. Kerry has managed to obtain a two year working visa for the United Kingdom, and will be fulfilling a long-held ambition to work abroad for a while. Her successor is Annet Becker, who joins us after three years with one of the best farms in the world, Juddmonte, in the United States. Like Kerry, Annet is a graduate of the Onderstepoort Vet School, she has grown up with horses, and we are sure she will make a great success of her new appointment. You will enjoy her when you meet her, and she is fortunate in inheriting the team Kerry has so capably built in the eight years she has held the portfolio.
Unfortunately this note isn’t all good news, in spite of the overwhelming volume of cheer. We all know what has happened to the oil price of late, and those of you who live abroad will no doubt be delighting in the recent slip in the value of the Rand as it makes servicing your monthly operating costs that much “lighter”!. We ordinarily administer a small increase in our boarding charges at this time of the year, and this year will be no different; however, the average increase across the board is of the order of 3,5%, and you will hardly notice it when it comes through.
The cumulative effect is that it will not only ensure we maintain a world class level of service to you and your horses, but just as importantly, it will make the lives of those that look after them and devote themselves to your cause through the year, a bit more tolerable! As you are aware though, if you have any queries, we are on duty around the clock and our Business Manager Ferdi Heinen is your man if there are any money issues. If there are philosophical issues, you have my number! Until we see you on the farm or speak on the telephone, our warmest regards.
P.S. Please remember, we now have one of the most interactive websites in the world, and if you’re at all interested to know what’s up on your farm, just dial the Champions at http://summerhill.co.za.