Mooi River
Mooi River

Mooi River Landscapes

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“If you’ve never been before…”

We’ve had a string of eminent personalities pass this way of late, many enticed by the horses, just as many magnetised by the charm of Hartford House. “Legend” is an over-used term in the world these days, but there are a few that have earned the title. On the weekend, at Hartford ( we hosted the Fitzgeralds, Steve and Nicky of C.C. Africa (now And Beyond) fame. Then, if you’d been a fly on the wall under the old oak tree besides the Summerhill office yesterday, you’d have been knocked over not only by the individuals, but by the sheer weight of what they stand for.

Before we tell you about our gathering, there’s a famous story we regularly share with our visitors of the attractions of our area, and of the gravitas that gathered on the summit of Spioenkop, at the “mother and father” of all battles in the early months of 1900. Drawn together by dint of the beauty and the bounty of our region, and the peculiar circumstances that lead nations to war, were five men of incalculable influence. Louis Botha, South Africa’s Prime Minister, who’d been a classmate of the Moors of Hartford at Hermannsburg, (who could guess then that both Sir Frederick and General Louis would both one day be Prime Ministers?) our man, Jan Smuts, the man the world chose to write the charters for the League of Nations and the United Nations, the man Churchill appointed from the war cabinent to be his successor as Prime Minister of Britain should Churchill himself have been incapacitated, was there; the most famous Englishman of the century, perhaps of all-time, Sir Winston Churchill, he was on Spioenkop that day; Denys Reitz, Deputy Prime Minister of South Africa, and one of our most celebrated sons was present, and who would’ve thought it, the man who liberated India in 1947, Mahatma Ghandi, he was carrying a stretcher on Spioenkop that day. Can you think of a gathering of any more influential men of any century, in such a remote place at one such time, on one day?

We might be overstating things a little when we look at yesterday’s gathering, but in the affairs of the world we live in, it’s worth a go. David Higgs, South Africa’s No.1 Chef of 2010, and Jackie Cameron, ranked alongside, they were there; the Champion Angus breeders of the nation, Colin and Judy Emmanuel from our neighbourhood, and Serovin Silero, a stand-out personality in a cattle breeding population of close to 50 million head in his native Argentina, they were here to cast their eyes upon the Summerhill Angus herd, in its own right, a prolific gatherer of show-time case ribbons over the years: the Alexanders, Gary, Dean and Julie, conditioners of our own champions, Pierre Jourdan, Arabian Mist and the Gerald Rosenberg heroine, Spring Garland; Peter and Jenny Blyth, celebrated breeders of the Durban July ace, Classic Flag; Peter and Gail Fabricius the only owners in modern times of three East Cape Horses Of The Year, and history’s winning most racehorse, Hear The Drums, twice the Victor Ladorum, Brigadier Parker, and the first South African bred horse to earn a cheque in the richest race in the world, Paris Perfect, were at the table. And then there were the usual sprinkling of the country’s seven times Champion breeders.

Some day, in some place. If you’ve never been before, as they say in the classics, you’ve never been anywhere!

Happy Christmas and a gigantic 2012.