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THEIR CRICKET MIGHT SUCK, BUT THEIR HORSES CAN RUN

their cricket might suck but their horses can run pi
their cricket might suck but their horses can run pi

Street Sense (USA)

(Photo : NYRA)

Australia’s Thoroughbreds reveal their depth.

There is something about the human psyche that backs the underdog. For more than a decade, Australia’s cricketers have ruled the world, and with South Africa, their rugby players are the only other nation to have scooped two World Cup titles. The world has been waiting for the fall. Right now, the troops with the baggy green caps, are under the cosh while England made smashed eggs of the yellow-shirted Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday. But the Aussies are a resilient lot, and when there’s one division not firing, be sure there’ll be another one popping its head up in glory.

Attendees at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup were again reminded of the depth of Australia’s thoroughbreds, when Hollywoodboulevard and Igugu, R900,000 and R1 million graduates respectively of the 2009 Emperors Place Ready To Run Sale, fought out a stirring finish for the R1,5 million on offer. The next day, in the bull ring at the TBA sales complex, the top six horses were all Australians, five of them making a million or more, and while all are sons and daughters of renowned international stallions, the outcome simply reminded us what the “shuttle” concept has had on Australian breeding. It’s true, of course, that in the first four stagings of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, the Aussies have been unsighted, despite their price tags, so for those of us involved in the consignment of Aussie-breds, it was a welcome advertisement.

The country’s two biggest features of the weekend, the Victory Moon Handicap (Gr.2) (Perana) and the Starling Stakes (Gr.3) (Gibraltar Blue) were both scooped by the progeny of the celebrated racehorse, Rock Of Gibraltar. Mike de Kock’s grapevine tells us Perana is headed for the J&B Met (Gr.1), while Gibraltar goes for the 150th renewal of the best “mile&” in South Africa, the Queens Plate (Gr.1).

Across the seas, and more specifically in Kentucky, USA, we hear illuminating stories of the first crop of Street Sense, the only horse in history to have completed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby double. Those who know the history of the “cold war” between the giants the Maktoum family of Dubai and Coolmore of Ireland, will recall that neither has been inclined to buy the progeny of stallions belonging to the other during the three or four years of stand-offs since Sheikh Mohammed’s declaration.

There appear to be signs of a thaw in the offing with the purchase by Coolmore’s Demi O’Byrne of a smart youngster by Street Sense at the Keeneland September Sale, an aberration which signals intent of an altogether different kind. The question is, is there a diplomatic strategy behind the purchase, or is it simply a case of the Street Senses being irresistible to a man of Demi O Byrne’s talents? According to Bill Oppenheim, one highly regarded judge who has seen quite a few of the progeny of both Street Sense and his famous sire Street Cry, believes if anything,  the foals of the son might be a little nicer than those of the father, and we all know what Street Cry has done in establishing himself as one of America’s most desirable stallions.

So where does all of this lead take us? Well its part information and part propaganda. You see, the Summerhill draft for the 2011 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale includes both a son and a daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar, as well as a typical son from the first southern hemisphere-bred crop of Street Sense. But that’s not the end. Among the millionaires at last weekend’s sale was a spectacular son of Elusive Quality, sire of this year’s top-rated American racehorse, Quality Road, as well as the international luminaries Smarty Jones and Raven’s Pass. Need we say it, but there’s an exceptional son of Elusive Quality in the draft as well.

Those that know our drafts, will tell you that it’s been a feature of our consignments of the past to include a smattering of Australians among them. We think we’re getting better in our selections, and while this has involved paying more to acquire the right stock, the battle between Hollywoodboulevard and Igugu justfifies the money. We think our offering for next year climaxes all previous entries, but as Dennis Davis is want to say on E News at 5:30 pm every Sunday, “You Be The Judge”.

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AUSSIES GETTING INTO A BROWN STEW

herman brown jnr
herman brown jnr

Herman Brown Jnr

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

TRAINER HERMAN BROWN JNR

One of the most affable families in South African racing is that of the trainers Brown, now in its third generation. One of the stars of this family, is Herman Jnr, most recently renowned for his connectivity with Dubai and Singapore Group 1 hero, Jay Peg.

You couldn’t find a more mild-mannered bloke than Herman whose stamp is all decency. Somehow though, he’s found himself embroiled in a political mudslinging of some proportions in Australia, where he has the Melbourne Cup firmly in his sights and the man bankrolling his raid is making headlines there for all the wrong reasons.

Jeff Zerbst reports that Australia’s Sun-Herald paper led this past weekend with the story of how Chechnyan president, Ramzan Kadyrov, is aiming to win “the race that stops a nation” with the gelding Mourilyan (30-1).

This is seen by some as a very bad thing - the man is accused of being a dictator and a human rights monster. He was even described as the “new Stalin” by a female journalist who only lived for a few weeks after making the comment.

Now the local bleeding hearts are asking for the Prime Minister to step in and block the horse, and another stable runner Bankable (aimed at the Mackinnon Stakes), from racing here. Senator Bob Brown of the Greens doesn’t want Kadyrov coming here either.

“If this nasty character were to get his hands on the Melbourne Cup, it would be the lowest point in Australia’s sporting history,” said Senator Brown.

The other “Brown” in this intriguing sage is Herman, whose dad won countless Gr.1’s in a stellar career in Durban. Brown junior isn’t Mourilyan’s regular trainer - that job falls to England’s Gary Moore - but he is reportedly the handler of these horses when they go overseas.

So here we have the oddest spring prospect in ages - Herman Brown saddling the Melbourne Cup winner for the latterday “Stalin” while local lefties froth at the mouth as they quote dastardly sayings from the winning owner. Like this reported one - “I will be killing as long as I live.”

Bookies, not known to be an ideological species, will be more worried about Kadyrov making a financial killing. His horse has a second placing in the Goodwood Cup to his name and last time out won over 2816m at that track. 30-1 will be a lip-smacking price for the guv’nor.

Active sires in Australia show a 73% drop in last 20 years

Danehill
(Photo : The Virtual Form Guide)

A lack of diversity and dwindling numbers in the sire ranks have become clear trends in Australia - which is the world’s second largest producer of thoroughbreds behind the United States.

Owner & Breeder reports that Michael Ford, keeper of the Australian Stud Book, noted in a recent report that the number of stallions that covered mares has fallen 73% since 1988, from 2,917 to 768 in 2008. The number of mares bred has decreased by about 40%, falling from 44,413 to 26,800. Perhaps most remarkably, of the 768 stallions bred to in Australia last year, 114 were by Danehill and another 56 were grandsons of Danehill, with that prolific line thus accounting for 22% of the total stallion population.

And many of the Danehill line horses are some of Australia’s most active, with Coolmore’s young Danehill stallion Fastnet Rock the busiest in 2008 with a total of 248 mares covered.

Eleven of the top 20 sires in Australia in the most recent season are sons or grandsons of Danehill, including God’s Own, third most active stallion with 196 mares.

Others are Choisir (194), Holy Roman Emperor (180), Oratorio (173), Flying Spur (171), Not A Single Doubt (161), Stratum (159), Dylan Thomas (157), Commands (151) and Exceed And Excel (148).

Ford, however, focused his comments on shuttle stallions rather than the Danehill phenomenon. “Shuttle stallions have been the biggest influential factor in horse breeding in the last 20 years,” wrote Ford in a paper published by Australian Breeding & Racing. “In 1989 there were two: Bluebird and Last Tycoon, and they covered 163 mares between them. In 2006, there were 64, covering 5,627 (an average of 90 for each shuttle stallion) mares – more than one in five of the total Australian population.”

AS BLUE HENS GO, THIS IS A PROPER ONE

manhattan rainManhattan Rain (Encosta De Lago/Shantha’s Choice)
(AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes - The Royal Randwick)

Australia-watchers were dealt a feast of quality racing at Sydney’s Royal Randwick at the weekend, where the historic Doncaster Handicap, Australian Oaks, the T.J. Smith Stakes and the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes featured on the menu. The event though, that really caught the imaginations of racing fans, must surely have been the Sires’ Produce, the second leg of Sydney’s Juvenile Triple Crown, where the remarkable mare, Shantha’s Choice (by Canny Lad) featured her third Grade One winner and her fourth Stakes winner, overall. Amazingly though, that’s not the end of the story, as Manhattan Rain (by last season’s champion sire, Encosta De Lago) is a half brother to no less a man than Redoute’s Choice, sire sensation of Australia. Shantha’s Choice herself was an undistinguished runner, yet her fairytale continues here, with the fulfilment of his pedigree destiny by this juvenile youngster.

Ironically, Manhattan Rain was bred by Muzaffar Yaseen, 50% owner (can you believe?) of Redoute’s Choice, so his mother is precluded by virtue of his own ancestry, from visiting what is arguably the best stallion in Australia. For the record, without being able to return to the sire of her two best runners to date (Danehill is deceased), Shantha’s Choice has had to settle for a range of different mates, one of whom (Rock Of Gibraltar by Danehill) is the sire of her Grade Three winning filly, Sliding Cube, as well as a return visit to Encosta da Lago and most recently Hussonet, the Mr Prospector stallion resident at Arrowfield Stud.

LINDSAY PARK STUD : The Extension of a Legend

sam hayes national yearling sale (heather morkel)Sam Hayes
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

One of the associations in which we take great delight, is with the legendary Lindsay Park Stud in the vicinity of the famed Barossa wine growing region of South Australia. Lindsay Park was founded by one of Australia’s training icons, the late Colin Hayes, father of Australia’s leading trainer of the present era, David Hayes and grandfather to Sam Hayes, who has taken over the stud breeding operations at the property.

Lindsay Park has many things in common with Summerhill, not the least of which is its isolation from the mainstream of Australian breeding, the Hunter Valley. Like us in KwaZulu Natal, South Australia is off the beaten track in breeding terms, yet it continues to produce a stream of top quality horses, despite its removal from the location of the nations top stallions. Only recently, it has produced the likes of the celebrated Grade One winners, Niconero and Nicconi (winner of last weekend’s Galaxy Stakes Gr1). From all accounts, Sam enjoyed his trip to us last week. With his permission we quote from his note penned on the way home.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Dear Mick and Cheryl,

I am currently flying from Johannesburg to Sydney and reflecting on the last ten days.

I would like to sincerely thank you both for your wonderful hospitality in Johannesburg, at Hartford House and at Summerhill Stud.

The South African experience in general was everything that I had hoped it would be (and more!). The results of the National Sale were encouragingly strong in the face of a decline in world confidence. I was most impressed by the sale ground facilities and permanent hospitality areas within each barn (not to mention Linda’s chicken rolls… one of many highlights!)

The trip from Johannesburg to Natal with the stopover at Clarens provided for a great opportunity to view the South African landscape. Thanks for letting me travel with you.

Hartford House is a very special place. It is a credit to your imagination and sense of style Cheryl. The decor, delicious food, excellent service, warm hospitality and Zulu dancing will not be forgotten. It is a world class venue. Congratulations!

Summerhill Stud was quite inspirational. Seeing the Summerhill Stud graduates winning Group races at Turffontien on Saturday and then witnessing the top filly and colt being sold from your draft was only the beginning! Being able to observe your farm and your team at the top of its game was a real treat.

It was motivational to see first hand what can be achieved with hard work, optimism and persistence. The vision that your team has for Summerhill has largely been realized and to see a business modeled so meticulously on the template of one’s vision was most inspiring.

The things that stand out in my mind are the proactive initiatives to train and educate your staff (not only with work skills but general life skills as well). The genuine focus on clients. The effective diversification of your business through insurance and feed divisions and the development of organic pasture management practices.

But what I loved most was the burning desire you all had to become South Africa’s leading breeders, backed by a steadfast belief that you would one day get there despite not having the monetary backing or the perceived geographical advantage of your rivals. You are reaping the benefits of doing what you love. That really does inspire me.

Naturally I found so many parallels with what we are hoping to achieve at Lindsay Park Stud. I can’t wait to get back to work. I know, with time, we can do the same.

Thanks also for giving me an insight into how you run your monthly accounts. Those templates will be very useful in helping us to re-design our financial reporting.

The whole experience was an absolute privilege that I sincerely appreciate. Not even watching the Australians loosing the one dayer in Cape Town was going to dampen my spirits!

Please pass on my thanks to all the team, especially Heather, Linda, Kerry, Annet, Tarryn and Marlene.

Long may your success continue!

Warm Regards
Sam Hayes

Summerhill Stud’s Australian Ambassador!

ARROWFIELD STUD : A world leader leads the way

Redoute’s Choice
(Photo : Arrowfield Stud)

Events at Sydney’s Easter Sale, showcase of Australia’s Thoroughbred industry, have prompted a major re-think on stallion fees by that country’s marquee farms. John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud, has headed the change with its announcement of fees for the forthcoming season, largely characterised by dramatic reductions. Of course, most of Arrowfield’s stallions come off a very substantial base, and in the current climate this would not be sustainable. Public spiritedness has brought about the revision.

“We have elected to fully recognise the current market situation, occasioned by the global financial crisis and to adjust our fees to levels which will ensure breeders can achieve profitable outcomes by using Arrowfield’s first class stallion line-up,” John Messara said. “While the Easter yearling average was down about a third on the 2008 figure, it should be remembered that the service fees at the time of conception of these yearlings made a lot of the Easter trade quite profitable.”

“The other factor that breeders should consider is that the 2009 conceptions will not be sold until the 2012 yearling sales, by which time it is hoped the economy will have recovered.”

Redoute’s Choice fee for 2009 will now be $198,000 (inc GST), down from $330,000. Going against the trend is the country’s leading first season sire by earnings, Charge Forward, which will stand at $27,000, an increase of 11 per cent.”

The new Arrowfield fees:

Charge Forward $27,500 (inc GST) up 11%
Danzero $22,000 (inc GST) down 20%
Flying Spur $82,500 (inc GST) down 40%
Hussonet (USA) $71,500 (inc GST) down 48%
Not A Single Doubt $13,750 (inc GST) unchanged
Redoute’s Choice $198,000 (inc GST) down 40%
Snitzel $22,000 (inc GST) down 33%
Starcraft (NZ) $22,000 (inc GST) down 33%

MULLINS BAY : A Golden Prospect

MULLINS BAY
“RARE PRAISE INDEED”

Sheikh Hamdan’s racing and bloodstock manager of more than twenty years, Angus Gold, is a legend of our sport. He’s one of the most recognisable personalities in the game, and he knows what he’s up to. The Aussies are an exacting lot, and they’re harsh in their judgment of people who dare to venture into their sales environment, yet the one man they hold in universal esteem as a picker of racehorses and a good man in the truest sense, is Angus Gold.

In South Africa, he is the man, together with the initiator of the other Maktoum investments at Summerhill, Michael Goodbody, credited with the presence in this country of Ruling Family’s horses here, and today can take a bow at the achievements of Muhtafal and Kahal, here by dint of Angus exertions.

It’s no small praise then, when he acknowledges your horse as a prospect of note. On a recent visit, he took one look at Mullins Bay, and proclaimed him “as good looking a stallion prospect as I can remember, and he’s got one of the great pedigrees of the world”. This horse has a good deal going for him; because he could run like the wind, and like Kahal, Street Cry and Medicean, he’s a son of one of the world’s top emerging sires of sires, Machiavellian.

TYPHOON TRACY REMAINS UNBEATEN


Typhoon Tracy winning the 2009 Coolmore Classic G1

Sometimes, just sometimes, a horse comes along that restores a purist’s faith in excellence. Typhoon Tracy is just such a living, breathing example of excellence. On Saturday she maintained her unbeaten record (5 wins from 5 starts) in her toughest test to date when tackling the older mares in the Coolmore Classic G1.

That she did it the hard way, making most of the running in this 1500m test, which merely adds courage to the class she showed in coming back to defeat the New Zealand Group 1 winner Culminate (Elnadim) after being headed momentarily in the straight. Even allowing for the five kilograms she was getting from the older mare, this was a terrific performance from Typhoon Tracy, trained at Caulfield by Peter Moody.

Typhoon Tracy is Vinery stallion Red Ransom’s 11th Group One winner. Her dam is the Last Tycoon mare Tracey’s Element (trained by David Payne), who raced with distinction in South Africa, winning eleven times, including a quartet at Gr.1 level.

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HONG KONG BREEDERS CLUB : No wonder they like Danehill


Tip : Turn up your volume

Two years ago, the Hong Kong Breeders Club made their first South African investment, and it will come as no surprise to our readers to know that it was in the Danehill stallion, Way West. Peter Yip, the brains behind the organisation, has been involved in the breeding of racehorses for many years in Australia and New Zealand, and he’s one fellow you don’t have to convince when it comes to Danehill’s influence. He knew something when he put his money down on Way West, because he knew him as a racehorse in Australia, and unsurprisingly, in view of what we have to report here, he was quick to put his hand up when he heard Stronghold was coming to Summerhill.

His inspiration comes from the quality Danehill stallion, Danroad, who stands at Highview Stud in New Zealand, and who’s one spot below Zabeel on the New Zealand leading sires table, with his first crop just three year olds. Already a sire of an Australian Group One winning two-year-old in Rockdale, his sophomore son, Down The Road, skated in a few weeks back in the ORC Championship Stakes (Gr.2), and just bobbed on the line in a tight finish for the $2.2 million New Zealand Derby (Gr.1).

In the same Auckland Cup Week, his daughter Amazing Sky was an impressive winner on the second day of the carnival, having posted a Stakes performance as a two-year-old last season. For a horse with only 45 and 38 foals from his first two crops, he’s off to a stirring start, and he’s another example of why we keep banging on about South Africa’s dearth of quality racing sons of what is indisputably the greatest sire of sires the southern hemisphere has known.

For the record, Danroad was a winner of the Wakefield Challenge Stakes (Gr.3) and was placed in Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (Gr.1) as a two-year-old. He follows the pattern of all of Danehill’s most distinguished sons, being a graded stakes winner with good form between 6 and 8 furlongs. The Summerhill trio of Way West, Stronghold and Solskjaer have just that in common: they’re all Graded stakes winners and each of them has form between 6 and 8 furlongs, with Solskjaer stretching his class to 10 furlongs.

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NEW ZEALAND DERBY 2009

New Zealand Derby (Gr1) 2009
2400m Turf
1 March 2009
Ellerslie, Auckland, New Zealand
(For 3 Year-Olds)

Results :

1st: Coniston Bluebird
2nd: Down The Road (Danroad)
3rd: Tell A Tale

Time: 2:31.04

AUSTRALIA: Some redeeming features

the twelve apostlesThe Twelve Apostles
(Rugged Shores)

We’ve all read about the fires which have devastated the state of Victoria during the past month, (they were still raging during our visit this past week,) and the remarkable contrast in climatic conditions on that continent. Victoria, in common with most of the states on the coastal seaboard, has been locked in drought for the past twelve years, while there are parts of Queensland under torrential flood. South Africans cannot imagine what it is to live in a country so parched on the one hand, and so drenched on the other, and then so regularly put to the torch every few years (remember the great fires in Sydney a year or two ago?). So you must know what it’s worth to them when they beat us at cricket! It’s almost intolerable being out there when they’re on top, believe me! Yet, I have to say, the banter’s all in good heart.

On the other hand though, the Aussies can take a beating, and the fact that their sale in Melbourne was 34% down with a low clearance rate, did not get their spirits down. They’re a philosophical bunch, the Aussies, if they’re nothing else, and I have to say, they kept their chins well up, despite the turnaround.

In the event, we completed our purchasing twenty four hours in advance of our anticipated time, so we took a hire car and for the first time, we beat it down the Great Ocean Road, which connects the coastal strip between Melbourne and Adelaide.

Bold words aren’t enough to capture the scale and spectacle that graces the Great Ocean region around Port Campbell. Vast sea canyons, gorges, blowholes and battalions of cliffs; simply being close to such leviathans is invigorating. To witness them in wild weather, battered by the might of the Southern Ocean, is intoxicating. It was just such a day, when we were there, and judging by the vegetation, it’s often like that.

This stretch of coast is a place where mythology and reality meet, where tales of shipwrecks, disaster and heroism resonate against imposing edifices, including the coastline’s most famous feature; The Twelve Apostles. These mighty limestone stacks are up to 45 metres tall and are something else, especially at sunrise and sunset.

South Africans active at Premier Yearling Sale

encosta de lago-acquistoDay 1 Top Lot Encosta de Lago-Acquisito
(Photo : Inglis Bloodstock)

megan romeynMegan RomeynBucking the international financial chaos that has dominated world markets over the past week, the 2009 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale has once again proved that thoroughbred investments are viable financial commodities in these uncertain times.

Day one of the sale ended with Champion sire Encosta de Lago proving to be the top seller as his colt out of the unraced Acquisito (Zeditave), a half-sister to the Stakes winning Make Me A Miracle, fetched the top price of $170,000 for Blue Gum Farm.

As expected Exceed And Excel set the best sire’s average with three yearlings returning an average of $120,000. There was considerable interest in his offspring, and the recent victory Reward For Effort in the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr.1) certainly helped his cause. Another stallion who has attracted good interest is Commands, whose yearlings have averaged $85,417.

South Africans have been active at the sale, with Mike Bass, trainer of Pocket Power, securing a colt for $50,000 by the son of Redoute’s Choice, Not A Single Doubt, out of Park Heiress (Sadler’s Wells). Heritage Bloodstock snapped up a filly by sire of the sale, Exceed And Excel, out of Lulworth Cove (In The Wings) for $165,000 and a colt by General Nediym out of Belle’s Best (King’s Best) for $50,000.

Day two yielded a new sale topper with the hammer finally dropping at $365,000 for a Redoute’s Choice colt boasting an impeccable pedigree. The colt is out of Celtic Reign (Woodman), a half sister to tripple Melbourne Cup winner and two time Australian Horse Of The Year Makybe Diva.

Meanwhile the boss and Kerry have been kept busy vetting the vast number of lots on offer with a few astute purchases, I’m sure. We will keep you updated as the information trickles in.

The Danehill affinity for Northern Dancer-line mares

northern dancerNorthern Dancer
(Painting : Richard Reeves)

“A CELEBRATED CROSS: ONE GOOD HORSE AFTER ANOTHER”

Readers of the Summerhill Sires brochure for 2008/9 and those that use the mating guidelines on our website, will recall us banging on about the Danehill affinity for Northern Dancer-line mares, and how many good horses have flowed from this “nick”. Of course, we need to remember that while Danehill himself was a son of Danzig (by Northern Dancer,) he carries in his female line yet another strain of the Emperor’s “blood”. Indeed, he is a member of the self-same female family (of Northern Dancer), and while that’s no guarantee of an affinity, the fact is, the Danehills are typically big, strong horses who generally complement the very feminine, high quality females descending from the strain.

This past weekend, we were reminded of the potency of this cross when the winner of the Arrowfield Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr.1), Australia’s most famous “stallion maker”, was taken out by a son of Exceed And Excel. In common with some of Danehill’s most famous racing progeny, Rock Of Gibraltar (Be My Guest mare), Desert King (Sabaah), Peeping Fawn and Horatio Nelson (both Sadler’s Wells), Exceed And Excel was spawned by a daughter of Lomond, Northern Dancer’s English 2000 Guineas winning brother to Seattle Slew.

With the biggest concentration of Northern Dancer blood in its female herd in South Africa, and so many breeders’ preoccupations with outcrossing, you might have thought that in the presence at Summerhill of the largest assembly of quality racing sons of Danehill on the African continent, we might’ve been foolhardy in overdoing the concentration of this blood on the property. The answer is endorsed in the events of this last weekend. It’s a comfort to see this approach to the production of quality racehorses, is working so well.

Watch Reward For Effort winning the Arrowfield Blue Diamond Stakes 2009

MAGIC MILLIONS : Gold Coast, Australia

gai waterhouseGai Waterhouse with Lot 127 Encosta De Lago - Surrealist
(Sportpix)

“Surprisingly satisfying” was the billing at the end of the Premier session of Australia’s big sale in Queensland, Magic Millions.

Salient features:Top price of Aus $2million for a son of Encosta de Lago.
Clearance rate of 80%, an excellent result given the economic climate.
An average of Aus $131,632 (against Aus $157,321 a year ago), down approximately 16 -17%.

Managing Director David Chester expressed himself as “pleasantly surprised”, while Australia’s biggest man in advertising, John Singleton, was effusive in his reflections.

“It’s the only economic indicator that’s got me bluffed. No one would’ve picked that, not one of us believed that would have happened. It’s gone against the trend of the stock market, the inflation rate, the unemployment figures, the sales of Europe and Kentucky. It’s an amazing result”.

THE NATIONAL YEARLING SALES: A few pointers

street cryStreet Cry
(Dubai Racing Club)

In bringing to a close yesterday’s blog, we proclaimed an historic event in the commencement of the foundations for the new Al Maktoum School Of Excellence. While today is of routine significance, it nonetheless marks the beginning of another chapter of importance in the lives of a new generation of horses. The 30-odd lots selected for the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales was brought in today for the commencement of their education, and we guess this lot face one of the great acid tests of all time when its economic prospects are bound to be tested in an international climate which has red lights flashing for the luxury goods sector.

Their location for the next ten weeks will be the Final Call Yearling Preparation yard, named after Gaynor Rupert’s great foundation mare, and reclad in its stone finish in commeration of the 80th birthday of Erica Bennet Goss, two Novembers ago.

No doubt, whatever the financial limitations of the credit squeeze, the Final Call yard will witness the visit of many an aspirant horseman between now and the departure of this lot for Germiston in the closing weeks of March.

Among the early entries is a daughter of America’s hottest young stallion, Street Cry, now boasting an incredible nine Grade One winners from his first three North American crops. Eight of these are from his first two crops, while his third crop has already yielded another as a juvenile in 2008. Down Under, where Street Cry got off to a rather belated start by their standards, he now has two Grade One performers from his first classic crop, including what is arguably the best three-year-old in Australia at the moment, Caulfield Guineas (Gr.1) hero, Whobegotyou.

This fellow’s another example of why there’s occasional folly in over-emphasizing the value of pedigree alone in your yearling selections (or for that matter, in your broodmare acquisitions). It’s the composition of these things, and their combination with the physicals and athleticism of the animal that counts, and the fact that Whobegotyou was offered at as modest a reserve as $25000 as a yearling (which he failed to reach, and he was subsequently sold for $17500) is testimony to this belief. There was hardly a Black type horse in sight in his female line, besides his Listed placed first dam.

The Summerhill draft is sure to be the subject of some intrigue, if only for the fact that it includes the only daughter of Street Cry on offer in South Africa this year.

Watch Whobegotyou winning the 2008 Caulfied Guineas.

THE TAPESTRY OF LIFE: Always Rich in the Silly Season

richard haynes and mick gossRichard Haynes and Mick Goss

It’s one of the great pleasures of working at Summerhill that our lives are brightened by the regular visits of people from all over the world. Those that read these columns will remember that on Stallion Day this year, we were honoured by the attendance of people from 14 different nations, and while that’s probably a record of its own for any one day, it’s a fact of life here that we have people from all corners of the globe calling on us at different times of the year.

Linda Norval and her cohorts entertain people every day of the year (yes, somehow Christmas and Good Friday included) at the Summerhill Visitor’s complex, and often enough, a visit includes at least tea, if not a fine lunch.

Many of these people stay over, enjoying the wonders of Hartford House, and soaking up the atmosphere of an authentic African farm. At lunch earlier in the week, we had our long-time friend, Wayne Aldridge from Sydney (Wayne was the founder of the Equine Insurance Group when it previously traded as Delta Bloodstock), Richard Haynes from New Zealand Bloodstock, Dick and Anne Pemberton from East England, while the evening before we hosted South Africa’s favourite investor, Jim Hay’s English trainer Tom Tate and his lovely wife Hazel. Tom is a past trainer representative in the UK on the British Horseracing Board. For the record, Hazel, a talented trainer in her own right, is the sister of Michael Dickinson, the only man to saddle the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and both of them descend from one of England’s most famous dynasties.

Last Tuesday we were on duty again with Peter and Alison Brown, breeders of Outcome (crowned Champion Filly at the KZN Breeding Awards last weekend), ex CNA boss, Ian Outram and his wife Deidre, and Tony and Dale Feasey, buyers of last year’s top lot at the Ready To Run sale.

Just a few days ago, we were honoured with a visit by two legends of Australia, Antony Thompson of the spectacularly famous Widden Stud (at the top end of the Hunter Valley), and fourth generation success, John Kelly of the celebrated Newhaven Park Stud, where the likes of Wilkes, Luscan Star and Marauding made their names as the resident sires.

Students of the breeding game will tell you that there are very few farms anywhere that have survived successfully for more than three generations, yet Australia seems to be the gleaming exception, certainly in the case of these two properties.

Antony and John were here as ambassadors of Aushorse, the marketing arm of the Australian TBA, where Antony is the successor to John Messara as chairman, and John serves on the board of directors. We’re always honoured when men of this calibre visit us, and we always feel the wealthier (and indeed, smarter) for what they leave behind.

(Photo kindly supplied by Richard Haynes)

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For the record : THE KZN BREEDERS AWARDS

kzn breeders awardsTeam Summerhill
(Photo : Gold Circle)

Anything we ever achieve at Summerhill is always the product of many people’s contributions, and in this case, as we’ve so often said before, we must start by remembering that we work with one of the best teams in the world. Besides the expertise of those who’ve had the opportunity to work abroad at the management level, there are those among our Zulus, from the people who clean the stables all the way to the upper echelons of those who make the place tick, that have had their hands in this scrum. It’s an appropriate time then, to remember we’re privileged to work with the Zulus here, some of the most gifted stockmen in the world. Their contribution has been immense.

Besides, there’s hardly a horse bred on this farm that doesn’t involve co-ownership, and so we must congratulate all of those people that were associated with the breeding and raising of Friday night’s winners, either in partnership or on their own. Here we mention the names of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; the late Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum; Mike and Marty Meredith; Peter Brown, Dr Barry and Liz Clements, Robert Lynch, Stephen Gill and Angus Gold. All of them had a hand in these achievements, and our guys are standing at attention acknowledging their part.

Sprinter of the Year – Rebel King

KZN Stallion of the Year – Muhtafal

Stayer of the Year – Galant Gagnant

Breeding Achievement of the Year – Summerhill Stud

Three Year Old Colt – Imbongi

Stallion Prospect – Labeeb

Middle Distance Female – Outcome

Outstanding Older Female - Outcome


Well done.

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RUDRA dominates Steinhoff Summer Cup

rudra winning summer cupRudra with Kevin Shea aboard
(Mike de Kock Racing)

Saturday’s R2million Steinhoff International Summer Cup saw the Mike de Kock / Kevin Shea Group 1 juggernaut deliver once again with 3-1 favourite, Rudra, taking the day’s spoils in dominant fashion.

Jimmy Lithgow writes in The Times that the four-year-old Parade Leader (Kingmambo) colt, who runs for the partnership of Tony Moodley, trainer Mike de Kock, Chris Gerber, Ferdie Ladeira and rugby commentator Paul Bayvel, raced clear after cruising into the lead at the 300m marker.

It was a fourth Summer Cup victory for Kevin Shea, who has had a tremendous year, winning on several continents on Mike de Kock’s horses. But this was his easiest victory in this prestigious race. Rudra was Mike de Kock’s eighth winner in the Summer Cup.

While Mike de Kock was doubtful after the race whether Rudra could beat the mighty Pocket Power in the J&B Met early next year, there is no denying that the horse is a class act.

Settled towards the back of the field, with second-favourite Smart Banker in his slipstream, Rudra travelled easily. Kevin Shea allowed stable companion Equal Image, also racing in Tony Moodley’s colours, to take the lead, with Speed Of Gold, Membrado, Eddington and Senor Versace well placed.

Prince Asad made a move at the top of the straight but once Rudra was given his head, there was no doubting the result.

French jockey Christophe Soumillon, deputising for the injured Anton Marcus, worked hard on Smart Banker on the outside as the field reached the 200m mark and had to take evasive action as one of the leaders fell back.

Smart Banker, who beat Rudra in the recent Victory Moon Stakes, ran on stoutly to finish as Kevin Shea looked back for the opposition and eased up short of the line.

Smart Banker’s stable companion, Senor Versace, ran on well for third, with Prince Asad fading slightly at the finish to take fourth.

Earlier, Christophe Soumillon, rated by many as the best rider in the world, rode superbly to win the Grade 2 Dingaans on Charles Laird’s inexperienced New Zealand-bred colt, Oracy.

This smashing individual must be one for next year’s Vodacom Durban July short list as he was having only his second race.

While Kevin Shea was the star of the show on Rudra, Christophe Soumillon demonstrated the dedication it takes to become one of the world’s top jockeys, spending hours in the past couple of days pounding the tennis courts at Sun City in a sweat suit to take off the weight needed to make the ride on Smart Banker.

A good crowd turned out to watch the feature events, as well as the four-race international jockeys’ contest.

But superstar Italian Frankie Dettori, Ireland’s Mick Kinane, Australian Damien Oliver, India’s Mallesh Narredu, England’s Darryl Holland and France’s Belgian-born Christophe Soumillon had no answer to the powerful South African team, even though Darryl Holland gave the visitors a good start by winning the first of the four competition races and also won the Grade 2 Merchants aboard trainer Joey Ramsden’s Something Else.

By the last of the four races, the South Africans had established an unassailable lead, courtesy of victories by Karl Neisius and Piere Strydom, but man-of- the-moment Kevin Shea provided the clincher in the ninth race, winning on Alec Laird’s Urban Reason.

The South Africans won by 60 points, scoring 179 to the Rest of the World’s 119.

Mark Khan, the South African captain, won the bronze saddle as the highest-scoring individual jockey.

 

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