On the first Saturday of July every year, racing in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is celebrated as it is nowhere else on Earth. Not only do many of the nation's best racehorses assemble at Greyville Racecourse in Durban, the event also draws celebrities, cutting-edge fashionistas mixing European, African and Australasian attire, and racing dignitaries and journalists from around the world. They all bask in old-fashioned pomp and circumstance blended with pulsating global music, lots of libations and betting, and even a turf dash for any men daring enough to shed their clothes.
The following day, KwaZulu-Natal's most accomplished thoroughbred nursery and stallion station, Summerhill Stud, hosts an open house that has become renowned for its distinctive entertainment featuring Zulu warrior dancers and a stallion parade of stars that claim bloodlines and/or racing performance from around the world.
Summerhill chief executive Mick Goss has presided over the farm's nine consecutive South African breeding championships through 2013-14 and welcomes visitors to the farm's School of Equine Management Excellence, where the stallions are shown prior to an elaborate lunch and auction of seasons. This year's event took place on July 5 under sunny skies and the gentle mildness of the South African winter.
Clients of the stud, which sprawls over more than 3,000 acres and is home to more than 800 horses, are based in Britain, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, France, Monaco and Hong Kong in addition to South Africa. Over one-third of the horse population at the farm is owned by citizens of other countries.
Following the Summerhill open house, some international visitors to the Durban July festivities went on to see wildlife at a South African game reserve to complete the unique experience
Extract from Racing Post / The most read British daily