Summerhill YearlingSummerhill Yearling As the Boers looked down upon the old colony of Natal from the heights of the Drakensberg in 1836, their leaders declared “this is the new Canaan”.

They said so with good cause as the hills and valleys we live among can be counted with the most generous agricultural land on the planet.

While there are strong commercial imperatives behind the need to sell our produce, the departure of our yearling draft for the National Sales, in what can best be described as the “reverse Trek,” is not a moment without emotion. These horses are the products of our innermost instincts, their genetic make-up has been shaped by us, they’ve been brought into the world by people whose history is as closely associated with the name Summerhill as the farm itself, and they’ve been raised with the utmost and tenderest care.

Now they leave us for a new world entirely, and who knows where they’ll end up? That really depends on who raises his catalogue last and when the auctioneer’s gavel falls. Either way, life will never be quite the same and one thing’s for sure, most of them are about to enter the army. That said, the rigours they encounter at the other end are not entirely inimical to the make-up of the Thoroughbred. His somewhat metallic temperament responds well to routine and gentle discipline, and he’s about to embark on the career he was designed for. Running, and therefore racing, as we know it, is the ultimate destiny of the racehorse, and nothing compares to running when it comes to the desires of a Thoroughbred.

Nonetheless, as we bid them farewell from the loading ramps on Sunday, there’ll be a small contingent among our Zulus who’ll be quietly serenading them on their way, and there’ll be more than the odd moist eye among those who remain behind. This is not a lament, as we know the glories of this team have been built around the legends that’ve left us, and we look forward to the day when these youngsters reach the podium, proudly proclaiming the virtues of their upbringings.

Surely the boldest statement about what it is that differentiates the Summerhill-bred from all others, is that moment of victory, when we’re all reminded that he is different, that he’s been born different, raised by different people on different nutrition, in a unique environment.

Posted by Mick Goss

Click here to view Summerhill’s draft for the National Yearling Sale 2008.

Posted by Mick Goss