maktoum school of excellence


The great thing about the horse business, as we’ve said before, is that every day there’s new history being made, some big and some small.

Today is a big day for Summerhill, as it signifies the beginning of one of the more spectacular milestones in our thirty years on this property. It’s two decades this year since we first commenced our association with the Ruling Family of Dubai, and one of the enumerable benefits that have accrued from that relationship has been the upliftment of our previously disadvantaged people. The presence of the Maktoum stallions at Summerhill has not only contributed in large part towards the enhancement of the genetic integrity of the South African Thoroughbred as we know it, but it has created many hundreds of jobs in our province, not only at Summerhill, but on neighbouring properties housing mares which patronise these stallions.

It’s appropriate then, as we pen these lines, that Sheikh Hamdan’s Kahal bestrides the leader-board on the General Sires Premiership, a timely reminder of what today means in the annals of the Champion Stud.

About a year ago, Sheikh Mohammed, the current Ruler of Dubai, proclaimed the foundation of the Al Maktoum Trust. Under the guidance of the Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud, it has been decided the best way to honour the life of the late Ruler, Sheikh Maktoum, and the family’s contribution to the affairs of South African racing and breeding, was to erect a memorial of lasting consequence. This will take the form of the Al Maktoum School of Management Excellence, and while there has been considerable work done in establishing curricula, the recruitment of lecturers and the raising of funds, the actual foundations will be laid this morning.

The earthmovers will be on site within hours of this note, where we’ve selected a position of staggering beauty, for the location of a facility which is set to contribute substantially to the education and growth of management skills in the South African horse business.

For the record, Summerhill has just concluded its 32nd annual international scholarship, (mainly Zulu graduates) to the farms of the Sheikhs Maktoum in the USA, Ireland and England. In a programme which kicked off more than a dozen years ago, we’ve seen the growth of people beyond all expectations, and a new realisation of their self-worth and an infection in the rest of our people of standards hitherto unknown.