We've made no bones about the role education and upliftment have played in the fortunes of our business. It was one of the five pillars on which our assault on the national title was launched. Success in the racing game is all about stacking the odds in your favour, and getting the 5% and 10% increments on your side of the balance sheet.
To be world class, we needed a team to match the tag; that meant that the best man on the team was the one who could recruit better men than himself. If you hire people who are "smaller" than you are, you become a company of dwarfs. Most businesses are infernally dull; we all need an infusion of talent, inspiring leaders and sure-footed judges of humanity with an appetite for the midnight oil.
Running a stud farm is not all beer and skittles. At Summerhill, we strive to provide an atmosphere in which creative mavericks can do good work. There are few men of genius in any profession, horses included, but we need all we can muster. With few exceptions, in our game, they're either dysfunctional or disagreeable. Don't destroy them: they lay the golden eggs.
It's an irony of the industry in which we make our living, populated as it is by the planet's wealthiest people, that we are so lamentably short of educational institutions. That's why, more than two decades ago, we embarked on an international programme that has witnessed the award of more than 60 scholarships to some of the best stud farms in the world. It's what led to the establishment of the only School Of Equine Management Excellence in the southern hemisphere. And through the largesse of the Childwick Trust and the generosity of a few other "angels", it's what made it possible for our graduates Thabani Nzimande, John Motaung and Ashlee Hammond to top their respective classes at the English National Stud for the third time in four years.
Most people have an old world perception of what a "flesh and blood" success story should look like. Our people long ago joined the new world, where nothing short of a full day's work and a bit more will produce a horse worthy of that much-abused word in modern day sport, "champion". They know that telling the truth about your horses demands a horse that's worth telling the truth about. No donkey chases the carrot forever.
They also know, because they know that nothing is beyond reach these days, when a scientist tells you that something is possible, he's probably underestimating how long it will take. If he says it's impossible, he's probably wrong.