The calling of Africa
(Drakensberg Boys Choir)

KERRY JACK - After 8 years in the ‘metropolis’ of Mooiriver I felt a need to see a bit more of the world and headed off to England to find out if the grass is greener on the other side…

I spent the first 6 months working for Shadwell’s racing manager, Angus Gold and attended most of the Northern Hemisphere sales. The racing and breeding industry in England and America is enormous and the money involved is mind boggling. From July through to December there are back to back sales of either yearlings, horses in training, weanlings or mares with only a few days between each sale. Hundreds of horses are viewed each week and some of the sales run well into the night. By the end of the year exhaustion prevails and most could do without seeing any kind of four legged creature for a while! It was an invaluable experience and gave me new respect for the international bloodstock agent.

I then spent a few months riding for a pre-trainer in Lambourn preparing two year olds for the breeze up sales. As I had not sat on a horse for over a year it was quite an experience work riding through the English winter! The European Breeze-up sales are very similar to our Ready to Run sales here in South Africa. The preparation and presentation of the horses is similar and they too are starting to sit up and take note of this sale as a source of quality racehorses. Some top horses have graduated from these sales of late (including G1 Grand Criterium winner, Rio de la Plata) and, as a result, these sales have seen phenomenal growth over the last few years with Coolmore, Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan becoming more active in this market.

After a stint back at Summerhill and at the weanling sales in Australia I returned to Newmarket as veterinary assistant to the Baker, McVeigh and Clements practice. This relatively new branch of the practice has some of the top owners and trainers in England as its clients. They specialize in sales vetting and racehorse soundness and it was fantastic to spend some time with them and learn a little more about this side of the racing industry.

Although I had a wonderful time working and traveling abroad I missed the unbeatable climate, the diverse people, the stunning countryside and the ‘out of the box’ thinking that makes South Africa unique. I am very glad to be back and look forward to my position as Summerhill’s Bloodstock and Racing manager.

PS. You have to listen to the whole song.