summerhill ready to run draft string walking on the farm
summerhill ready to run draft string walking on the farm

A Ready To Run string out for a long walk

(Photo : Leigh Willson)



We’re always flattered by the number of people who visit our website on a daily basis, never more so than in the weeks leading to the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale. Interest is at an all time high, as people clamber for news of the Gallops. Gratifyingly, the posting of the live show on our website by Monday p.m., will provide all the answers.

Another source of regular curiosity, is what happens to the horses in the immediate aftermath of the gallops. Being the highly bred animals they are, genetically attuned to running, their first instinct when they’re as well as they are and in the flower of youth, is to get out and run, but it’s our job right now to get them to Germiston in one piece for the sale. Mercifully, of the 110 Summerhill entries, only 6 had very minor muscle twitches, bumps or bruises by the following morning, something of a miracle considering the hot-blooded nature of thoroughbreds, and that this was the “acid test” years ago, we remember with some horror the number of horses suffering with sore shins, a phenomenon commonplace in training yards with two year olds.

More recently at Summerhill, with the implementation of our bio-friendly farming and nutritional practices, we’ve laid down the quality bone which comfortably accommodates the rigours of racing, and it’s as big a compliment as we can pay to this revolution, that there wasn’t a single one with “shins” on Saturday morning. While there are other contributing factors, including genetics and some of our husbandry practices, the biggest factors are the way we farm, and the benefits flowing from our dedicated use of Vuma as our nutritional foundation.

For the fortnight after the gallops, the strings go out (about 16 at a time) for a long walk and an easy trot, and for the last time till they retire to stud one day, they’ll know the freedom of the paddocks. It’s some sight to see them when they’re let go with 30 acres in front of them in the mornings, fresh as they are right now, but it’s a touch nerve-wracking when they’re headlong in the direction of the boundary fence at 70km an hour, with few signs of letting up!

Once they get to the TBA’s magnificent sales complex at Germiston (for anyone who’s never been, it’s a world class facility, ranking with the best anywhere), they’re confined to two long walks, morning and afternoon, and they’ll be subjected to an entirely new routine. It’s bedlam in “Block A” once we get there, as there are droves of trainers, agents and owners passing through the complex every day, and there’s an entirely new discipline involved in standing to attention, and marching for inspection.

But they’re in the hands of some of the best professionals in the world, and it’s a joy to watch our young Zulus parading these horses; they have few equals in the realm of stockmanship.