As strange as it may sound, we were never ambitious about the Breeders’ Championship.
Legend had it that in all of recorded history, only five entities had ever aspired to the title, and looking at the holders, it was apparent that in every case, it either took several generations, or at the very least, huge financial resources.
Since we had neither the time nor the money, rather than disappoint ourselves, we took the view that the best road to satisfaction was to simply “give it horns, pal,” as our mate David Rattray used to say. That way, we’d hope to breed a few good horses, and provide those around us with a wholesome existence and the fulfillment that comes from doing the very best you can.
In a funny kind of way, when it finally happened to us and the enormity of the honour began to sink in, we realised the humility that accompanies it. Firstly, there’s the responsibility that goes with the crown, the need to honour the names of those that went before you and the people that chased you home. More importantly though, there’s the inestimable debt to those that made it possible, to the environment we work in, and of course, to the horses themselves.
And yet nothing, absolutely nothing, could’ve prepared us for the year we just had, let alone a third consecutive Championship. A record R14 million in earnings, 18 Feature winners, the stallions challenging for top spot on every conceivable log, and a host of individual highpoints among members of our staff.
In the process, we discovered a Classic generation that had been lurking quietly in the wings of last year’s winter, while other more precocious juveniles were carving out a name for themselves. In the spring of the new season, the ilk of Emperor Napoleon, Pick Six, Rebel King, Khebraat, Dynamite Mike and Desert Links unleashed themselves hurricane-like on the fold. In a matter of months, it was all over. Game, set, history, as they say in the classics.
Encouragingly, while this lot were undeniably exceptional, they were not exceptions. And the fact they were all born within a month of each other reminds us that the alumni among them had grown up together in the same old paddocks. Which leaves us asking, as the Springboks will in a World Cup year: Can winning become a way of life?
Extract from Summerhill Sires Brochure 2007/2008 due to be released first week into August. If you are not currently on our mailing list and wish to be included please let us know at : firstname.lastname@example.org