Mick Goss, Basil Marucs and Michael Roberts
(Photo : Alec Hogg)
“The numbers who sign our register
at the old gates to the farm are verging
on 40,000 a year these days…”
It’s that time of year when fans of the racing nations of the world descend upon the Southern Hemisphere. Dinner tables in England, Ireland, France, Germany and the United States are gloomy affairs : darkness descends upon them at 3:30 in the afternoon, Siberian winds blast across their icy surfaces, and they long for the sunshine of the South. Our country gets its quota of these visitors, and Summerhill enjoys a disproportionate share.
The numbers who sign our register at the old gates to the farm are verging on 40,000 a year these days, and while that includes the visiting plumber and electrician, it’s not far off a hundred a day. Of course, they come for reasons besides horses, as we’re home to the country’s top boutique hotel and restaurant, Hartford House, we run the continent’s second biggest equine insurance business at Lloyds of London, and there are still those that visit our Vuma factory for nutritional advice. Haydn Bam’s intimacy with the secrets of what has revolutionised our agricultural practices, is also much sought after.
Several days a week we’re playing host to luminaries who’ve travelled distances to see us, and occasionally these include guests from the Southern Hemisphere as well. This past week, the man who sold us Igugu, Simon Vivian of Inglis in Australia, and the well known Aussie agent, Paul Guy, joined us on Sunday evening. Two evenings later, the renowned “bloodstocker” turned CEO of Magic Millions, Vin Cox and Rowena Smith of Aushorse were the lynchpins of an evening which included jockey legends and rivals Michael Roberts and Basil Marcus, as well as Moneyweb’s founder Alec Hogg. In the same space, leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Pietermaritzburg environment, Bill Lambert (ex chairman of the Gold Circle chapter and a racing “treasure”) honoured us with a long overdue visit in the company of two august members of the business community, Remgro’s CEO Thys Visser and CFO, Jannie Durand. The latter two represent a relationship with the Rupert family which goes back to the opening of the Summerhill gates, as fine an illustration of the depth of the philosophies by one of South Africa’s most famous sons, the patriarch Dr. Anton Rupert.
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