As the breeding season approaches, we’re reminded of those that’ve assisted us in the endowment of Summerhill with its stallion power. The association of the Maktoum family with this farm is known across the length and breadth of the horse world, and we remember every day, that they joined us in what can be aptly described as South Africa’s darkest hour. Their Highnesses the late Sheikh Maktoum and Sheikh Hamdan’s decision to support our ventures here followed our visit to England in December 1990. Alarmed at what we’d been told during a meeting on the farm by the then Minister of Finance, Barend du Plessis, about the country’s rather scary economic expectations (remember, we’re talking about the late 80’s, early 90’s, when there was greater uncertainty about this country than at any previous time in the last two centuries), we were prompted to convene a delegation to United Kingdom to speak to people about the prospect of racing and breeding in South Africa.
Amazingly, having invited 150 people to the Jockey Club rooms in November, more than 450 turned up, probably the expectation of the release of Nelson Mandela. We reminded the Brits in our introductory speech, that as a country we’d given up more than two million lives in the Colonial cause, and that more than 400 000 had been sacrificed in the Empire’s wars. In the sort of stoic style we’ve come to expect from our erstwhile Colonial masters, the Brits turned up in numbers. To the degree that today, the Western Cape Owners Association claims more than 20% of the horses in training in Cape Town (by value) belong to British citizens, while at Summerhill more than 40% of the horses here have foreign owners.
Among those who’ve come to the party more recently, is Dr.Barry Clements, an old rugby mate during his days at Cape Town University (poor soul) and was a houseman at Edendale Hospital in Maritzburg. Mick Goss’ affliction for horses, with which he was born, was boosted, if that was possible, by his friendship with Barry Clements, an inveterate gambler (and a successful one at that) as a student, and the parties he used to organize at Scottsville racecourse during his internship at Edendale. The “disease” (his affection for horses, not betting) has maintained itself throughout Barry’s life, and he is today not only a substantial owner (with his lovely wife Liz) of numerous broodmares at Summerhill, but he is also a large investor in the stallions SOLSKJAER, and next year’s big excitement, MULLINS BAY.
Barry is a pediatrician in Perth, having migrated to Australia almost 30 years ago, but he has never lost his love for South Africa, nor his fascination for horses. For its troubles, the Summerhill team decided some years ago (as can be seen by the age of the sign at the foot of this report) to honour him in naming one of the avenues on the farm after him. For the record, Solskjaer is one of the most sought after stallions on the roster for the coming season, some sort of statement for the horse, bearing in mind that his first foal is yet to be born, and the competition within our stallion barn itself.