Igugu and Pierre Jourdan fight out the 2011 Vodacom Durban July
(Photo : John Lewis)
VODACOM DURBAN JULY
2 July 2011
This weekend turned out to be historic for more reasons than the opening of the Al Maktoum School Of Management Excellence alone. In our time, a 1-2 in the biggest sporting event in Africa has only happened once, and that was to our neighbours, Alan and Vera Sutherland almost twenty years ago. This time it was the turn of Igugu and Pierre Jourdan, both raised and grazed on the historic pastures of Summerhill and Hartford. Though we only played the mid-wife to Igugu, both of their upbringings were evident in the last punishing 400 metres of the event, the filly getting home by just over a length in the end after making much of the running, and PJ shouldering his welter 57,5 kgs like a Trojan.
The bonus in all of this, is that, barring miracles, PJ’s R600,000 for second money has probably put the Breeders’ Championship beyond the reach of our competitors for another 12 months, and so Summerhill becomes the first entity in the past forty years to rack up seven consecutive premierships. We won’t celebrate until there’s a bit of singing from the lady that counts, but we have a bit of a cosy feeling for now!
“You can take this filly anywhere, she’s world-class,” were the words of her world class trainer, Mike de Kock in the immediate aftermath, as he flogged the international health authorities for their timid management of the protocols that have done everything but strangle South Africa’s international trade. Which made us think of the boss’s revelation at Sunday’s Investec Stallion Day, that more than 500,000 horses had left our shores to fight the colonial wars, and never once did they export African Horse Sickness to any of the recipient nations. Surely that must be a salutatory enough lesson to those who make the rules, particularly when you think that South Africa has built a world class quarantine to enable these things.
Back to the races, and a remarkable race by a quite remarkable filly, and yet another feather in the extraordinary cap of her sire, Galileo, whose progeny have won six Classics in Europe this year, and are as rampant as an unstoppable train.
This really was a rags-and-riches story, with Igugu having stripped a cool R1 million from the unsuspecting pocket of a former electrician when she came up for sale in the Summerhill draft at the 2009 edition of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, while our man PJ, a comparatively unwanted urchin of the same sales ring, managed a paltry R60,000, hammered down to a previously unheralded owner by the name of Emilio Baisero, and the trio that make up the Gary Alexander Racing gang. PJ went on to become South Africa’s biggest earner in 2010 (putting together more than R4 million in stakes), while Igugu, together with her Triple Tiara bonus, has already passed the R5 million mark, and she’s the second consecutive Summerhill graduate to top the national earnings.
These are heady days for a farm like ours, despite the many years that we’ve been in business and the many great horses that have come off this farm, and they will count in the pantheon of our top five or six occasions for a long time to come.
No less historic though, and perhaps of a far greater lasting value, was the opening of the School Of Excellence by the Province’s First Lady, Dr. May Mkhize and the Director General, Mr. Nhlanhla Mgidi, and the awarding to one of our nation’s greatest sons and certainly one of the world’s greatest conservationists, Dr. Ian Player, and to the Premier of the Province, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, of the Land Of Legends Ingwazi award for their contributions to life in our region.
In the end, we had a record 21 nations in attendance, headed up by presidents, royalty, chairmen, champions and just good old racing folk, who came to worship their idols on a uncommonly cold day. That was nothing Waterford and Haute Cabriere couldn’t sort out, once we got to the warmth of the dining facility and Graeme Hawkins’ inimitable rendition of the stallion services auction.
That the Summerhill sires are in solid demand, is evident in the auction’s outcomes :
INVESTEC STALLION DAY
Fund Raising Auction
Advertised Service Fee (ZAR)
BRAVE TIN SOLDIER
Advertised Service Fee (ZAR)
KEVIN ARNOLD SHIRAZ
WATERFORD CABERNET SAUVIGNON
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