party pooper
party pooper

The burden of competitive antipathies…

(Photo : Banksy/Dreamstime/RealT)



One of America’s most famous sports promoters once said, “Success inevitably spawns its own detractors”.

Every achiever knows this, as well as the old saying, “when they stop talking about you, that’s when you need to start worrying”. It’s as true today as it was when it was first uttered. Here is an extract from a recently filed response to chat room comments on mare ownership at Summerhill. By the way, these fellows were not being malicious – they were merely conjecturing on stuff that was in the public domain.


Posted by : Oscar

I read in the Sporting Post that once again Summerhill Stud is already way clear of all the rest.

My Question is :

How many of the mares on Summerhill Stud, and used to determine stakes won, are actually owned by them?

Posted by : Jack Dash

Not really. Studs like you mention do not have boarders or clients as a general rule. Summerhill has hundreds of residents, most are not owned by the stud.

Still, the horses have been born and bred at Summerhill and total accumulated earnings are the game and they win.

Anyway, how else can anyone compete with billionaires who own these studs if they didn’t register small/owner/breeder boarders from their farms?

THE RESPONSE (from Summerhill)

1st December 2009

Robert Brogan

Good Morning Robert,

Many thanks for your enquiry concerning the mares at Summerhill, Summerhill’s lead in the breeders’ log, etc.

I’m pleased you raised the matter, as it’s been doing the rounds for some time, I’m told.

Apart from my brother Pat, who was a co-founder of Summerhill as we know it, there’s only one mare on this property registered in the name of Summerhill Stud (Pty) Ltd, in which we don’t hold an equity share. Of the total population of mares on the property (in the region of 400), just over half carry our registration. That means the rest are registered in the names of their owners, and the resultant progeny are registered accordingly. For what’s its worth, my brother has two mares here.

It’s also true that we hold interests in other mares with some of our customers, which are registered in their names (i.e. without reflecting Summerhill), so the statement that if you have mares residing on Summerhill, you’re obliged to register them in the name of the stud, is fallacious.

Those that do register in our name, are our partners, (there are close to 60 individual people in partnership with us), and they use the name Summerhill Stud (Pty) Ltd as their flag of convenience. Clients such as the Maktoum family breed under their own respective banners, (Shadwell and Gainsborough), as do our other individual clients, and the credit for the achievements of their stock accrues to them, and them alone.

The point Jack Dash (or Frodo) made is particularly apt in our case. As recently as 1999, following a ten year partnership which matured in 1998, all of the “Summerhill” stock was put up for sale. We managed to rescue 26 mares from the sale, and started to rebuild the stud from there. There was no inheritance at Summerhill, and cash in generous proportions has always been a relatively elusive commodity. As a result, we called up our friends around the world and invited them to participate with us, and the rebuilding of the stud started afresh. In the bulk of these partnerships, we hold at least 50% (or more), though there are some mares in which we hold a lesser interest.

It’s a remarkable statement on the energy and initiative of our team, that we managed to rebuild the broodmare band in the ten years since 1999 to the degree we have, and that by 2003, we were already third in the Breeders’ premiership, second in 2004, and won our first championship in 2005. It’s also true that by spreading the largesse, we introduced a host of other people to the feeling of being a champion. We think that’s good for the industry, as there was no other way they could aspire to that status alone, given the imperative of numbers to get there.

One other thing, in the nature of a confession. You can’t win the Breeders’ championship in this country (which is the “tightest” in the world) without numbers, and we make no false attempt at concealing the fact that we have numbers. We’re nowhere near the number of mares which Klawervlei now holds (of the order of 400 I believe), but if you look at the average earnings per runner for Summerhill, you will see that despite the negative impact which numbers inevitably have, our horses are more than holding their own by average earnings, an indicator that it’s not only numbers that count, but the quality of what you’re producing.

As opposed to the boutique operators, who produce the Rolls Royces of the industry, we see ourselves as the Toyotas, and for the time being, “everything just keeps going right”!

Thank you for your enquiry; I hope you understand us better now, and that this note might help to correct some of the misperceptions about Summerhill. I’m never sure what motivates people to make the statements the rumour mills have been generating without knowledge of the facts, and to be honest, if you hadn’t raised it, we wouldn’t have answered.

In any competitive industry, when you’re at the top, you have to carry the burden of competitive antipathies. When you’re especially successful, you find that 90% of what is said about you is negative, but that’s the price of being there. Carry it with grace, and do your time with dignity, if you can.

South African Breeders Log




Summerhill Stud

R 7,467,487

R 34,098

Maine Chance Farm

R 2,670,075

R 29,023

Wilgerbosdrift Stud

R 2,423,975

R 31,894

D Cohen & Sons

R 2,345,937

R 21,925

Lammerskraal Stud

R 2,300,300

R 29,118

Highlands Farm

R 2,101,450

R 20,602

Klawervlei Stud

R 2,063,650

R 18,425

Scott Bros

R 1,979,275

R 15,585

The Alchemy

R 1,962,025

R 30,185

Ascot Stud

R 1,737,325

R 23,164

(Correct as at 26 December 2009)

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