Imbongi’s win the Group Two Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein last week was yet another successful graduate of his breeder Summerhill Stud’s Ready To Run sales programme and further reinforced the farm’s recent dominance, writes Nicola Hayward from Cape Town.

A son of Russian Revival, Imbongi (which is Zulu for ‘The Praise Singer’) has not been without his problems but showed a welcome return to form with a fine win for trainer Mike de Kock, who is well aware of the family’s lineage. Although Imbongi’s dam, Garden Verse , was unraced, she is from a strong family that has produced champions Victory Moon , Kelly , Imperious Sue and Turncoat ; her Stakes-placed daughter Full Spectrum is the dam of the Group Three-winning filly Oracle News while another - Spring Garland - won the Acacia Handicap (Gr3) over 1600m in February.

Saturday’s meeting underlined the strength of Summerhill Stud: they bred the winner of the first race Thekkady (National Emblem) as well as Golden Web (Slew The Red), who was third in the second race; Paris To Peking , who finished third in the Listed Aquanaut Handicap, and the full siblings by Kahal - Bold Ellinore (third in the Empress Club Stakes (Gr1) ) and Emperor Napoleon (third in the Hawaii Stakes (Gr2)) - were also bred on the KwaZulu Natal farm, as was Rebel King who ran fourth in the Hawaii Stakes (Gr2) for trainer Charles Laird.

Summerhill Stud (pictured above) is unique. Not only has it headed the South African Breeders’ table for the last three years (and currently leads the list again by a considerable figure), but the rich history of the two farms, Hartford and Summerhill, which constitute the operation, is worthy of all of the remaining words. The magnificent setting of the property and the country hotel at Hartford House draw guests from all over the world to the rolling grasslands of the foothills of the KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg.

The farm’s successes have not happened by chance, but are the result of years of planning, hard work and team building on the part of CEO Mick Goss. Of Irish decent, Goss studied law and practiced as an attorney in Durban before moving to Summerhill. He is a man of seemingly endless energy and has built a formidable team around him, each with the Summerhill ethos of excellence.

In the early 1990s, following a meeting with then Minister of Finance Barend du Plessis, Goss was involved in a mission to Newmarket (England) where a meeting took place to portray the benefits of South African Racing and Bloodstock in a bid to counteract the then low confidence in South Africa - Nelson Mandela was still in prison and there was no way of knowing the future path of the country or its economy. Following the meeting, the Maktoum family made a firm commitment to becoming involved in South Africa and the result is that they now have a significant number of stallions at Summerhill. Furthermore, the economy has boomed, politics is representative and stable, and the bloodstock industry is flourishing.

This year Summerhill will stand nine stallions: Albarahin ; Cataloochee ; Hobb Alwahtan ; Kahal ; Malhub ; Muhtafal ; Mullins Bay ; Solskjaer and Way West . Four others marketed under the Summerhill banner stand at farms elsewhere - Slew The Red at Invermooi Stud in KwaZulu Natal and Fahal at Bosworth Farm in Klerksdorp, while Desert Team and Russian Revival are in Kenya at Rawhide Stud.

Both Kahal and Muhtafal finished the last season in the top ten of the Leading Sires Log and it should also be remembered that long-time Summerhill resident Northern Guest finished atop the Broodmare Sires List for a record sixth consecutive time.

Over the years the farm has produced some fine champions - Nhlavini ; Spook And Diesel ; Icy Air ; Pick Six and Rebel King , to name a handful, and Goss believes that the decision taken about a decade ago to substantially reduce the reliance of the farm on synthetic fertilization has played a major role in the success of the horses raised there. No doubt an ideal climate, fine Zulu stockmen and carefully considered matings, have also helped make Summerhill a major player in the local industry. Incidentally, Vuma Feeds, which supplies high quality horse feed throughout the country, is based on the farm and supports the concept that a cornerstone of the stud’s success is a balanced nutritional programme.

But, whatever the reason for the Summerhill Stud  success, it is patently working and there seem few reasons why it should not continue for some time to come.

Click here to view the Summerhill Stallions.

Click here to visit Hartford House.

Click here to visit Vuma Feeds. 

Extract from Thoroughbred Internet.com