Click above to meet Ricardo Christian and Thabiso Mgoza
(Image and Videography : Leigh Willson)
“BECKY THOMAS - LAKLAND FARM”
Much has been written in recent weeks about the vibe the Al Maktoum School Of Management Excellence is generating locally and abroad. It’s the culmination of many years of concentration by Summerhill on the upliftment and the education of its people, and an acute appreciation of the value of skills in maintaining the edge in the breeding business.
The legacy of this one though, will not be confined to Summerhill, as the intention is to make what is arguably racing’s finest educational facility worldwide, available to a broader audience, locally and abroad. The encouraging thing is, that while our initial intake will be limited so as to ensure the successful placement of the first draft of scholars, we’ve had numbers of applicants from as far a field as Hong Kong, Vanuatu, Turkey, the United States and Europe, besides graduate youngsters from our own communities.
Some fourteen years ago, and long before the idea of this school was mooted (some fourteen years ago), we embarked on a programme of international scholarships for our staff, and while it was aimed principally at our Zulu grooms, it wasn’t confined to them alone. Thirty six international scholarships later, we’ve seen the benefits deeply etched in the achievements of our racehorses, and in the growth of our people.
One of the principal contributors on the Ready To Run side, has been Becky Thomas’ Lakland Farm in the USA, which operates in both Florida and New York State. Becky is an enormously accomplished horsewoman in her own right, and she’s taken our people under her personal wing, providing them with opportunities they may never have dreamt of. Young fellows whose experiences in life were pretty much confined to Mooi River and the highway between Durban and Johannesburg, have found themselves riding out in Miami, Kentucky and California, and while Becky will be the first to acknowledge the contribution they’ve made, its difficult to quantify the benefit these youngsters have gained through her guidance.
This past weekend, her own enterprise was rewarded with the winners of two Stakes events at the fabled Belmont track in New York, when the progeny of Becky’s stallion, Freud (an own brother to Giants Causeway), took the Hudson Stakes (General Maximus) and the Maid Of The Mist Stakes (Sentimental Lass).
Our scholarship recipients for 2010/11 (they leave shortly after the Ready To Run sale) are : Thabiso Mgoza and Ricardo Christian, two young guys who’ve only been a couple of years at Summerhill, but who have it in them to go all the way.