Most stud men will tell you they’re exhausted at the end of the breeding season. When we set out on our present endeavours more than three decades ago, the racing, breeding and sales seasons were beautifully synchronised, so that you could take all of them in without missing a beat. These days, sales intrude on the breeding season, racing proceeds willy-nilly and the foals are allowed to land whenever their mothers choose, as long as they’re not bred before the 1st September. An operation of Summerhill’s proportions can scarcely afford a missed boat, so we have to be neatly compartmentalized. While one division is foaling, another is sales prepping, another is covering, and another is making, breaking and educating. The marketing team markets, the admin gang administers and the sales division sells, and while the toll is heavy, the outcomes make it worthwhile.
The old “let-up” in January, when stud men and women traditionally took their annual vacations, is a thing of the past. Yes, people do go on holiday, but the next man slips seamlessly into the absentee’s spot. The visitors still visit, the customers still demand, and the sales still proliferate. We’re scarcely out of Cape Town, and we have another Ready To Run upon us. Others leave within a day of that sale for the Australian sales, while still others prepare for the National Sales. Yet another team are weaning, and as soon as the next Ready To Run sale is over (Wednesday 22nd February at the farm), the next draft for November will be making their way to the Up The Creek barn for their first acquaintance with the inside of a stable since their earliest days.
Meanwhile, the marketing span has a long and relentless schedule, and given print deadlines, it’s planning months in advance. Not only for sales, but for Stallion days, Ready To Runs, the July and the Met, the Summer Cup and the classic season, and let’s not forget the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup. In between, some are trying to squeeze the time to keep our readers amused, digging up angles to give you a story, or bringing you the latest from the international world of racing.
And then there’s the reward. It’s a well-advertised fact that the Summerhill website is the most visited in thoroughbred breeding, and that our traffic regularly accounts for more than ten times our regular pursuers. Last month was a new record, and a new world mark at the same time. We take none of this for granted: indeed, we are awed by our status, and yet it’s a compliment to the power of the internet that this farm, 10 kilometres outside the dustiest little village in KwaZulu Natal, at the southernmost tip of what the civilized people to the north and west of us call the darkest continent, should be the centre of such curiosity. Our ranking in South Africa now counts in the hundreds, literally, and we’re comfortably inside the magical 150,000 mark internationally. It takes a bit of doing, and it takes a bit of a webmaster.
These are the world’s most visited thoroughbred breeding websites (in order) according to the Alexa ratings :
4. Lane’s End