A journey through the suites at Hartford House recently included among the Top Boutique hotels in South Africa.
This week’s choice of suite is the Preston Pan Suite (Suite 7).
The Ellis family founded their famous racing dynasty at Hartford in 1940 and, among several unique installations of their time, at the foot of the farm they built the longest herringbone-drained racetrack in the world, from whence they trained the winners of every major race on the South African calendar.
In the same year, they acquired their first two fillies, the most significant of which was Preston Pan, who went on to become not only one of the most accomplished race fillies of all time, but also one of the matriarchs of South African Thoroughbred breeding. Preston Pan spent her first night at Hartford in what then was the stables, (in this very suite) together with a companion, whom she terrorised through the night, not only inflicting bodily harm on her unfortunate stablemate, but also on the stable itself.
She was trained henceforth from the paddock which is today known as Chapel One (alongside the Chapel), and Preston Pan holds the distinction of being the only two year old filly ever invited to participate in Africa’s greatest horserace, the Durban July Handicap.
Whatever her exploits at the races, Preston Pan was twice that as a broodmare, and a visit to the old flower pots that line the main driveway into Hartford, reveals the names of 48 national champions, among them no fewer than a dozen descending from this legend of the turf.
While they went about the renovation of Hartford when they first moved here in 1990, Mick & Cheryl Goss occupied this suite for about two years. By the time of their arrival, it had been part of the original Hartford House Hotel, founded by the Ellises some seven or eight years before. Whether it has anything to do with its connectivity with Preston Pan, the room is reputed to induce great fertility!