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Basil Marcus



Mick Goss, Basil Marcus and Michael Roberts at Hartford House
Mick Goss, Basil Marcus and Michael Roberts at Hartford House

Mick Goss, Basil Marucs and Michael Roberts

(Photo : Alec Hogg)

“The numbers who sign our register

at the old gates to the farm are verging

on 40,000 a year these days…”

It’s that time of year when fans of the racing nations of the world descend upon the Southern Hemisphere. Dinner tables in England, Ireland, France, Germany and the United States are gloomy affairs : darkness descends upon them at 3:30 in the afternoon, Siberian winds blast across their icy surfaces, and they long for the sunshine of the South. Our country gets its quota of these visitors, and Summerhill enjoys a disproportionate share.

The numbers who sign our register at the old gates to the farm are verging on 40,000 a year these days, and while that includes the visiting plumber and electrician, it’s not far off a hundred a day. Of course, they come for reasons besides horses, as we’re home to the country’s top boutique hotel and restaurant, Hartford House, we run the continent’s second biggest equine insurance business at Lloyds of London, and there are still those that visit our Vuma factory for nutritional advice. Haydn Bam’s intimacy with the secrets of what has revolutionised our agricultural practices, is also much sought after.

Several days a week we’re playing host to luminaries who’ve travelled distances to see us, and occasionally these include guests from the Southern Hemisphere as well. This past week, the man who sold us Igugu, Simon Vivian of Inglis in Australia, and the well known Aussie agent, Paul Guy, joined us on Sunday evening. Two evenings later, the renowned “bloodstocker” turned CEO of Magic Millions, Vin Cox and Rowena Smith of Aushorse were the lynchpins of an evening which included jockey legends and rivals Michael Roberts and Basil Marcus, as well as Moneyweb’s founder Alec Hogg. In the same space, leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Pietermaritzburg environment, Bill Lambert (ex chairman of the Gold Circle chapter and a racing “treasure”) honoured us with a long overdue visit in the company of two august members of the business community, Remgro’s CEO Thys Visser and CFO, Jannie Durand. The latter two represent a relationship with the Rupert family which goes back to the opening of the Summerhill gates, as fine an illustration of the depth of the philosophies by one of South Africa’s most famous sons, the patriarch Dr. Anton Rupert.

Related articles on Alec Hogg’s Graceland Farm Blog :

Roberts, Marcus - legendary competitors in the saddle,

fast friends today

Remgro execs visit the Midlands and Gowrie creator’s

impassioned plea for excellence




Basil Marcus
Basil Marcus

Basil Marcus

(Photo : Marcus Racing)


Basil Marcus has returned to South Africa after deciding to cut short his Singapore training stint and this time he intends acting as assistant to his son Adam.

Marcus told Michael Clower: “Adam has a real passion for racing and he did tremendously well in the last two seasons that we were in Cape Town. We are very keen to get going again and at the moment we are waiting for stables in Natal. We are hopeful that these will come up in the near future as we are all ready to go.”

Marcus (54) started training in Cape Town in 2004 and sent out almost 300 winners in 5½ seasons including the 2007 Cape Guineas and Cape Derby with subsequent Dubai Duty Free and Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg. Early last year he moved to Singapore but, although he had 15 winners, he did not make the same impact and decided to return to South Africa. Adam was his assistant in Cape Town and in Singapore.

Marcus was a jockey for 30 years and had considerable success almost round the globe. In South Africa he twice won the J&B Met; he was champion in Hong Kong and in Britain he rode for Michael Jarvis and Clive Brittain. He was second on the latter’s Game Plan in the 1990 Oaks and rode her to victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

marcus racing
marcus racing


Extract from Racing Post




trafalgar legacy wins $75,000 class 3 stakes in singapore for basil marcus
trafalgar legacy wins $75,000 class 3 stakes in singapore for basil marcus

Click above to watch Trafalgar Legacy winning in Singapore for Basil Marcus

(Photo : Summerhill Stud - Footage : Signapore Turf Club)

SGD75,000 Class 3 Stakes

Singapore, Turf, 1600m

9 January 2011

South African trainer Basil Marcus and Australian jockey Ronnie Stewart are proving a successful combination in Singapore after notching up their second winner this past weekend when Trafalgar Legacy took out the SGD75,000 Class 3 Stakes over 1600m on Sunday.

Leading from the outset, Trafalgar Legacy scored a commanding two length victory over Knight Spirit (John Powell) with Tarankali (Sam Subien) a length-and-three quarters away third.

Trafalgar Legacy gave the Basil Marcus-Ronnie Stewart combination a second win over the weekend after striking with Good As Gold on Friday.

The victory was Trafalgar Legacy’s first in nine starts in Singapore having been successful once in two starts in South Africa before his arrival.

Marcus produced a great training feat, jumping Trafalgar Legacy up in grade from Class 4 company, at the same time relishing a weight drop.

“He had been extremely unlucky in a number of his races so far,” said Marcus. “It is deserved reward for the horse. I thought that by putting him up into a Class 3, it would be a benefit for him with the drop in weight. With his misfortune in his previous races he hasn’t been able to recover with the weight that he has been carrying. I’m just delighted for the horse to have finally broken through for a win and I’m also delighted for the connections which include Newbury Racing and Summerhill Stud.”

Marcus also praised the winning ride of Ronnie Stewart who judged the pace “beautifully”.

Stewart said it wasn’t his plan to go out and lead but he was happy to do so when he did find the front.

“I have ridden Long Haul a few times and I thought if I could track him I would have too much zip for him,” said Stewart. “When he (Long Haul) hesitated in going to the front I was happy to do so. I got it pretty easy and held him together for as long as possible. I was happy to stack them up and he showed a good turn of foot when I asked him for the effort. I don’t think he’s finished with winning races here just yet.”

Having five minor placings to his credit - three seconds and two thirds from eight starts prior to Sunday’s victory, Trafalgar Legacy had banked almost SGD50,000 (ZAR 265,000) in prizemoney.

A four-year-old Australian-bred entire by Rock Of Gibraltar from Toolighttoquit mare Lady’s Light, Trafalgar Legacy took his prizemoney to around SGD95,000 (ZAR 500,000)with this success.

Extract from Basil Marcus Racing

TRAFALGAR LEGACY (AUS) (Rock Of Gibraltar (IRE) - Lady’s Light (USA) )

4 Year Old Chestnut Colt

Owner : Newbury Racing Stable

Trainer : Basil Marcus

Jockey : Ronnie Stewart

Win Time : 1:35:85

Singapore Career Record : 1 Win, 7 Places, 9 Starts

Singapore Career Earnings : SGD95,000 (ZAR 500,000)

Trafalgar Legacy is a graduate from the Summerhill draft of the 2008 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale.





Horse Wt







R Stewart

Basil Marcus





J Powell

Brian Dean





S Sam

John O’Hara





V Duric

Cliff Brown





O Chavez

HW Tan





D Beasley

Laurie Laxon





B Vorster

Patrick Shaw





O Placais

David Hill





M Kellady

Steven Burridge





R Fradd

Patrick Shaw





M Au

HK Tan





I Andy

Stephen Gray

summerhill stud south africa
summerhill stud south africa

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markus jooste and blue voyager
markus jooste and blue voyager

Markus Jooste and Blue Voyager

(Photo : Heather Morkel/JC Photographics)



If there’s a more travelled businessman in South Africa, we’d like to meet him. We’re sure if you get your hands on Markus Jooste’s diary, you’ll find he spent as many nights on an airplane bunk as he did in his own home in the past twelve months, and SAA have probably run out of minerals to describe his class of Voyager card.

If you were tuned into the first at Turffontein Tuesday, you would’ve come across a new definition for the word “Voyager”, as the million Rand son of Muhtafal demolished an expectant field on his first racecourse appearance.

As a graduate of the Summerhill draft at last year’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, a performance of this class catapults Blue Voyager right into the front line of contenders for the R1,5 million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, prize restricted to graduates of last year’s sale, and while he’ll be short of experience, what he proved Tuesday, was he won’t lack for class.

There were three millionaires in last year’s sale, the R2,2 million Rock Of Gibraltar colt, Trafalgar Legacy who sparkled on debut during the KZN winter season for Basil Marcus, and last week we witnessed an encouraging first attempt from the Galileo filly, Insasa, when the daughter of Europe’s best stallion was an underprepared fifth for Michael Azzie over the minimum trip. Those that know Galileo will tell you they only find their gears beyond a mile, so this was heart-warming.

With a run, Trafalgar Legacy and Blue Voyager will be many people’s idea of starting favourites for the big event, which is hardly the sort of news the connections of Havasha, Pierre Jourdan, Smanjemanje,Mahuboor Fisani would want to hear.

But for racegoers, this has to be music for the ears. The handicappers have been saying for a while now, this is looking like a vintage crop of Three-Year-Olds, and the best evidence lies in the early entries for the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup.

Roll on Saturday 7th November.

summerhill stud genuine article logo
summerhill stud genuine article logo





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galileo coolmore stud
galileo coolmore stud

“Please click above for indepth analysis of Galileo at Coolmore Stud”



charl pretorius
charl pretorius

Charl Pretorius there’s already a good deal of allure in the R1.5million on offer for graduates of last year’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Salein this year’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup(scheduled for Saturday 7 November), there’s another very good reason to be in Johannesburg that weekend, besides the celebrity cocktail party at the “Emperor’s” on the Friday evening.  That rests squarely on the quality of the entry for this year’s sale on the Sunday.

The virtues of high performing graduates of the sale have long been extolled by Summerhill Stud in its brochures, adverts and on television, so we’re not going there right now, other than to say that in more recent years, Summerhill have introduced a new dimension to the sale in the form of its imported entries.

The depth in the quality of their offering last year was evident in the fact that both sales’ toppers, colt and filly, were by the international celebrity sires, Rock Of Gibraltar and Galileo, the former being Trafalgar Legacy, who has already given notice that he could be worth every cent of the R2,2 million Denis Evans forked out for him, when he posted a facile first-up victory during the KZN season. If he isn’t destined in the first draft of Basil Marcus horses departing for Singapore, he’ll be short odds to recover a healthy portion of his purchase price on the 7th November.

This year’s “imported content” for the sale is, if anything, even more formidable. Firstly, they include two outstanding daughters of Europe’s standout stallion, Galileo, and this is the very last opportunity investors will have to acquire Galileos born to southern hemisphere time. You can’t buy them in Australia or New Zealand any longer because their sales are over, so this is it, and one of them hails from the immediate family of the best horse in the world last year, Zarkava, the other out of a Danehill sister to two Graded Stakes winners. They don’t come much better than that.

In their determination to broaden the appeal of the sale and to provide buyers with genuine investment pieces, Summerhill have cast their net into the richest of waters, and again the emphasis has been on the best. For example, their entry includes a daughter of the best young stallion in the United States, Street Cry (he may even be the best stallion period), a striking son of one of the best representatives of the Roberto male line, Red Ransom; a son of the best French stallion of recent times, Anabaa; a son of the best South American stallion of the modern era, Hussonet; and a daughter of the best freshman sire in Europe this year, the all-conquering racehorse, Shamardal.

Given that it costs in the order of R150 000 to bring a horse from Australia to South Africa these days, there’s consolation in knowing that these specimens are already in solid work in South Africa, and that their transport and keep to date have already been taken care of.

emperors palace ready to run sale 2009
emperors palace ready to run sale 2009


elusive quality
elusive quality

Elusive Quality

(Darley America) 

Please click photo for indepth analysis of Elusive Quality



Sales watchers of the past few seasons, will have “checked” Summerhill’s policy of including some choicely bred southern hemisphere youngsters in our annual drafts. As part of our ongoing thrust in that direction, we witnessed the arrival Friday morning of three sons by a trio of world renowned stallions : Elusive Quality is remembered as the sire of American racing sensation, Smarty Jones, as well as stand-out young stallion, Elusive City. Fusaichi Pegasus was the stand-out yearling of the world in his year, and he went on to become the stand-alone three-year-old of the United States; while Hussonet is arguably the stand-out stallion of the past thirty years in South America.

Friday morning’s arrival included a stand-out son of each of these fellows, destined for next year’s Emperors Palace National Sale. Trafalgar Legacy’s debut victory a few weeks ago for Basil Marcus, reminds us of the “picking” prowess of the Summerhill team. He was a R2,2million graduate of last year’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run (by Rock Of Gibraltar), and looking at the pedigrees, we’ve shifted gear a bit with the “new” fellows.

Notes From Mauritius


Notes From Mauritius

There was a time when this Indian Ocean paradise was part of our annual calendar, when Cheryl and I ventured here each year as honoured guests for the fourth leg of the local Classic, the Duchess of York Cup (every year in October). Those were the days my friends, pioneering times, when I was the Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association of South Africa’s committee man for marketing.


Michael Clower reviews Ready To Run Sale 2008

denis and gael evansDenis and Gael Evans
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“Inspiration Bucks The Trend”
by Michael Clower
South African Bloodstock News
Issue 6 March 2009

michael clowerMichael Clower South African Bloodstock NewsIn the long history of the world’s bloodstock industry few men have been able to turn the market. The qualities required for this include immense drive, an inspired imagination and a dedicated determination to succeed no matter how insuperable the obstacles appear.

Not many people are blessed with all these attributes, and the bloodstock industry has only a small pool to draw on. A number of its people have tried to buck impossible-looking trends over the years but few have succeeded. However Mick Goss joined the elite band at Gosforth Park on the first Sunday in November.

The Summerhill Stud boss has been the main driving force behind the success of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale since its inception but, with thoroughbred sales round the world reeling under the impact of the global credit crunch, few expected the TBA’s fastest-rising sale to emerge unscathed.

Many were steeling themselves for a 20% drop yet Mick Goss kept up his artillery of relentless promotion as if, like a modern-day Napoleon, he was simply not going to allow defeat to enter his calculations. His boundless enthusiasm paid off with a 34% rise in the average price and a sense of well-being that spread through the country’s studs as if it was manna from heaven.

“The sale was a tribute to many more than myself,” said Mick Goss, attempting to divert the kudos. “It was a grand catalogue of fine horses, prepared by some serious horsemen, and I think the South African racing public deserve credit for their courage and foresight in supporting the sale.”

It was a grand catalogue and there is no doubt that it read a good deal stronger than in previous years. There is still improvement to be made before the overall level reaches that of the National Yearling Sale and, if this can be achieved, there is every reason for the graph to continue to climb.

A new Ready To Run record top price was set when Basil Marcus went to R2,2million for an Australian-bred colt by seven-time Group One winner Rock Of Gibraltar (sire of Eagle Mountain) from a strong American family.

“I saw him at the Summerhill Gallops and also on the farm before that,” said Basil Marcus. “He was the one I wanted to buy. He had everything in the right place, he was very well balanced and he had a beautiful action.”

Basil Marcus was acting for Denis and Gael Evans, Johannesburg-based owners who “have a lot of young horses with me.” Their sale-topper had been purchased eight months earlier for A$75,000 (approximately R500,000) at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

As last year, Australian-breds sold well and they accounted for four of the top seven prices. Marlon Aronstam’s two Brazilian imports also fared well.

Oscar Pistorius’ decision to get involved could have far-reaching benefits for racing and breeding. The brilliant athlete bought the Kahal filly Watchful for R200,000 and is involved in the syndicate that purchased the second-highest priced lot, the Galileo filly Insasa, for R1,5million. Mike Azzie will train both.

There is a close correlation between the athletics track and the racetrack and, if either of these two fillies do well, racing will be propelled into the limelight, other stars will see the appeal of owning racehorses and the public will want to go and watch.


Emperors National Two Year Old Sale matches record levels

bloodstock south africaThe hammer rests until 2 November 2008

When the curtain came down on the 2008 Emperors National Two Year Old Sale at Gosforth Park on Sunday night, there were many happy faces at the TBA Sales Complex.

Bloodstock South Africa reports that the sale was buoyant and exceeded all expectations by matching last year’s record levels. With 100 fewer lots catalogued this year the aggregate reached R26,785 million. This figure, on the level of an equally projected 409 lots, would be roughly R1 million up 2007’s R25,852 million.

“We are truly elated with the results,’’ said BSA’S Chief Executive, Jan Naude. “We didn’t know what to expect in the current economic climate and considering the below-par results of the recent regional sales, so this was a pleasant surprise. The average of R80 921 is almost exactly the same as last year.’’

BSA Sales Manager Caroline Simpson added: “The Emperors National Two Year Old Sale is traditionally a popular auction and this year’s quality was exceptional. This year the smaller breeders made significant contributions with some beautifully conformed two-year-olds, which helped to boost the turnover.’’

Top price of R480 000 was paid by Patricia Devine Investments for Kruger Park, a filly by Al Mufti from Hancock Park. Her half-brother by Western Winter fetched R2,6 million at the 2007 National Yearling Sale and Caroline Simpson said: “This is a family of good lookers and on top of that the Al Mufti fillies are like gold, he is consistently near the top of the broodmare sire’s list.’’

Second-highest price of R475 000 was paid by trainer Ormond Ferraris for Divine Jury’s half-sister Velvet Hue (Lot 182), a bay filly by National Assembly.

Trainer Basil Marcus was the top buyer by aggregate, followed by John Freeman, Tawny Syndicate and Ormond Ferraris. Basil Marcus and his leading patron and friend Etienne Braun came away with 15 lots bought for R2,57 million and Etienne Braun said: “We really like this sale, we’ve found horses here like Desert Links and Coco Beach, there always seems to be exceptional value in the R200 – R400 000 bracket.’’

Basil Marcus added: “This was a strong sale and yet we managed to secure every two-year-old we selected and wanted to buy, which is amazing.’’

Basil Marcus paid R360 000 for Lot 82, Look To The South, a filly by Captain Al described by her breeder Dan de Wet of Zandvliet Stud as the plum of his consignment. The trainer also spoke highly of Lot 300, Silky Lily, by Spectrum, bought from Highlands Farm for R340 000. “Graham Beck will be retaining a share in this one, she’s a grey filly with class about her,’’ said Etienne Braun.

Klipdrift Stud (Agent) topped the list of vendors by aggregate. Klipdrift sold 21 lots at an average of R159 049 per thoroughbred, including Jet Master’s son Jet Command (lot 265), for R310 000.

Highlands Farm’s resident stallion Spectrum topped was the top sire by aggregate. Fifteen of his offspring fetched R2,475 million at an average R165 000 per lot sold.  Jet Master, 2008 Champion Stallion, continued his success with the top average price of R287,500.

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Desert Link's Gold Cup Win

desert links horseDesert Links
(Heather Morkel)

South Africa’s richest and most prestigious race for stayers, the R1,200,000 Canon Gold Cup, was not by any stretch of the imagination a vintage one, but then it usually pays to follow proven stayers over the Greyville two miles and all of the first three past the post fell squarely into that category.

The European Bloodstock News reports that Desert Links had finished a very good fifth in the Vodacom Durban July and proved that Saturday’s two mile journey was much more to his liking.

A son of the tall, athletic, Summerhill Stud-based Kahal, who will stand the 2008 breeding season at a fee of R50,000, Desert Links probably had the best form of any runner going into the race, having won the Listed Cup Trial at Clairwood over 1800 metres on his penultimate start.

Kahal, who has proved himself a very useful sire in six seasons at stud in South Africa, is out of the Green Desert mare Just a Mirage. Kahal won eight races from two to six in the UK, France and the UAE and has produced eight Graded race winners in South Africa to date.

The dam of Desert Links, Selborne Park (Home Guard) won five races and was Gr.1-placed. Her dam, Godille (Bolkonski), was a winner in France and also produced Siren Song (Coastal), the dam of the Gr.3 winner, Mzwilili (Muhtafal), winner of the Gr.3 (then) Pretty Polly Stakes.

Trained by former Hong Kong Champion jockey, Basil Marcus, who has already established himself at the forefront of South African trainers, Desert Links has now won seven of 19 starts, for total earnings of R1,282,250.



DESERT LINKS : The six flags are still flying...


Last month, Independent Newspapers columnist, David Thiselton, alluded to the Summerhill tradition of flying six flags outside the stallion barn following a Graded Stakes winner, and he enquired over the weekend after Desert Links’  spectacular victory in Africa’s greatest staying race, the Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1), whether the flags were doing their stuff.

The answer is a resounding “yes”, as the whole place celebrates a Gold Cup winner with the same enthusiasm that we celebrate heroes of the J&B Met, the Gomma Gomma and the Durban July. There are those who will argue that the Gold Cup is not in the same league, but it has a tradition and a social history at least as long and prestigious as any of those events, and those of us who revere its place in the racing calendar, look forward to our runners in this marathon event with the same spirit and respect as the best races in the land.

Our cause is a good one as we’ve made a point of trying to inculcate in our stock, a balance of stamina, which the thoroughbred as a breed not only deserves but absolutely needs in order to maintain its integrity.

Some years ago we set out in a deliberate attempt to breed a Gold Cup winner, following a boiling cup of tea on a sweltering verandah in the 45º heat only a corrugated verandah in the Karoo can induce. Never was it more truly said that “mad dogs and Englishmen, go out in the midday sun” than here, as we languished over lunch in the vicinity of Oudtshoorn in the company of our great English mate, Alec Foster, a horse enthusiast if ever there was one, and a purist for the traditions associated with the thoroughbred. Our purpose was an assault on the few genuine Gold Cups left in the Durban Turf Club’s vaults, and we determined to send two mares to two horses of significant stamina in our attempt to achieve it. The granddam of Victory Moon, Wild Hyacinth was one of those selected for the purpose, and she was sent to Braashee, a two mile winner of the Yorkshire Cup in the UK. Another, a daughter of Northfields, was sent to the English  mile and a half record holder, Desert Team, with the same result in mind.

The following year we sent two Northern Guest sisters out of a stamina-laden daughter out of the great French Classic sire Luthier, to Jallad and Braashee, with the same strategic intent, and between the four of them these mares, produced a nine time winning miler (out of Wild Hyacinth,) a Gold Cup winner, Cereus, (from the Northfields mare), a Champion filly, Icy Air (out of the one Northern Guest mare) and Amphitheatre, who went down just a nose in the Gold Cup from the other Northern Guest mare. Which just goes to show, if you put your head down with a proper purpose in mind, these things are possible, even in a business as unpredictable as racehorse breeding. Unfortunately, for this story’s sake.

Saturday’s winner of the Gold Cup, Desert Links, was not bred with a Gold Cup in mind. He did however, represent a deviation from the norm in the breeding affairs of the late Sheikh Maktoum, insofar as his dam, Selborne Park, was sent to a “non-Gainsborough” stallion in Kahal, in the hope of breeding an animal of some size, as his dam, a Stakes winner in her own right had repeatedly produced small, light horses of limited ability.

On the credit side, Desert Links comes from a female line of considerable accomplishment in the hands of the best families in French breeding, including the Dupres, Marcel Boussac, the Aga Khan and latterly the Niarchoses. You could scarcely line up four more distinguished breeders in that country’s history and so this family, which includes the likes of the Champion Staying filly of her year in Europe, Dunette and her Gr.1 winning son of Sadler’s Wells, French Glory, was always likely to throw up a quality horse.

Following his impressive victory in the Cup Trial in June, Desert Links ran a “whopper” from the back of the field in the Vodacom Durban July a month ago, earning his position as joint favourite going into Saturday’s race. Though favourably drawn, he somehow managed to find himself three horses wide most of the way, as the field traversed the 3200m journey around Greyville racecourse’s spectacular circuit. It’s the only course in the world covering 3000m in extent, and it lies in the heart of the city (encircling the Royal Durban Golf Club) and despite running wide, Desert Links ran on manfully in the closing stages, exhibiting his class as he went away from one of the best line-ups in modern Gold Cup history.

Salutations to his breeders, Gainsbourgh Stud, his owners and old friends of the farm, Etienne Braun, Eban Bouwer, Paul Loomes and of course, Selwyn Marcus. And finally, and probably most of all, to his exceptional trainer, Basil Marcus, whose as old a friend of this farm as anyone. The horse was expertly handled for his preparations for this race by another stalwart supporter of the farm, Dennis Drier, who celebrated his second association with the Gold Cup winner, having produced Highland Night for Andre Macdonald to get up and beat our own Amphitheatre by a neck five seasons ago.

“Amazingly, this same Eban Bouwer used to put the ball under the bosses’ feet in the Western Province rugby scrum in the early 70’s, and while it might well have been the other way round, Mick has always contended that it was he that made Eban famous!”

(Photography courtesy of John Lewis)



GOLD CUP DAY : Links to Victory

battlestar express, weichong marwing and karen anthonyBattlestar Express with Karen Anthony and Weichong Marwing
(Gold Circle)

The arrival of new life on Summerhill has heralded the start of a new racing season and our runners on Canon Gold Cup day, yesterday at Greyville, chalked up a tally of impressive performances.

Megan Romeyn writes that the diminutive Battlestar Express was first up in the Umngeni Handicap (L) over 1000m. This talented son of Summerhill super sire, Muhtafal won a fast paced race, adding one more to his growing list of victories. Jumping well he kept a good pace with the rest of the field before being guided up a notch by the highly skilled Weichong Marwing, kicking for home with 200m to go and winning by half a length from the fast finishing King James.

However, the excitement of the Battlestar Express win was somewhat eclipsed when Desert Links, the five year old gelding by Summerhill sire, Kahal, out of Selborne Park, stepped up to the plate in the feature race, the R1.2 million Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1) run over 3200m.

Ridden by jockey Greg Cheyne, who is hinting at the best season of his career, Desert Links was kept comfortably off the pace in 8th position, seemingly content to roll along, advancing steadily. At the 400m mark, Greg Cheyne asked the big question, only to be answered with a phenomenal turn of acceleration, with Desert Links snatching the lead from Prince Asad.  Showing remarkable staying power Desert Links fended off a fighting Membrado, a scrambling Omaha Beach and a chase of three horses including Equal Image, Magical Ballad and Ser De Carrera, to win by almost a length.

An elated Basil Marcus, who trained Desert Links to perfection, was on hand with owners Etienne Braun and Paul Loomes to share in the celebrations. Basil also paid tribute to his brother Selwyn Marcus who has a share in Desert Links along with Eban Bouwer, both of whom were not present to enjoy the trackside jubilation. Basil Marcus has always thought very highly of Desert Links and couldn’t have put it better when he said “He’s a really decent horse and I was very confident. Last season in KwaZulu Natal he raced four times, won three and was second in the Derby. He’s a super horse”.

As if the day’s racing couldn’t get any better for the Summerhill contingent, Keats Drift, the Summerhill-bred son of National Emblem, raced to an impressive victory in the Betting World Pinnacle Plate over 1900m. Under the tutelage of the experienced Anton Marcus, Keats Drift settled towards the rear of the field before moving up steadily to strike at the 300m mark, powering away to hit the line for a comfortably win.

In the other races of the day, it was a case of “oh so close” for two of Muhtafal’s offspring. In the Gold Bracelet (Gr2) over 2000m Outcome, the supremely talented daughter of Muhtafal and recent winner of the Garden Province Stakes (Gr.1), was denied victory by a strong finishing Gilded Minaret. Outcome continues to impress and has shown again that Greyville is definitely to her liking.

Then the boss, who was still reveling in the victory of Desert Links, cast his learned eye over the field for the Canon Digital Imaging Open Handicap over 1600m, and confidently predicted that Modern Monet would take the laurels. And that he did, driving home from the lunging son of Muhtafal, El Padrino, and Fork Lightening

Another special moment for Summerhill was when one of our team members, Velaphi Mbanjwa, proved his knowledge of form, and in so doing won tote vouchers to the value of R15 000 courtesy of Canon. Well done Velaphi, we are all so thrilled for you.



DESERT LINKS powers to Gold Cup victory.

desert links and greg cheyne
Desert Links piloted by Greg Cheyne
(Gold Circle)

Desert Links ran out a convincing winner of the R1,2 million Canon Gold Cup (Gr1) run over 3200m at Greyville yesterday, capping a cracker-jack day of racing for Team Summerhill and cementing Kahal’s position as one of the best young stallions in the land.

Gold Circle reports that with a fast-finishing fifth in the recent Vodacom Durban July, behind dead-heaters Pocket Power (Jetmaster) and Dancer’s Daughter (Act One), Desert Links (Kahal) put in a sustained stretch run to hold off the 12-1 chance Membrado with Omaha Beach third and 33-1 outsider Magical Ballad in fourth.

Greg Cheyne gave Desert Links a copybook ride as he sat towards the rear of the field in the early exchanges before moving into a challenging position approaching the 600m mark.

Off the false rail, Desert Links, tracked by Membrado made their runs up the outside of the course with Magical Ballad up the inside.

However, it was clear a long way out that Desert Links had the race in the bag and he went on to win comfortably from Membrado.

Omaha Beach came from a long way back to run into third ahead of Magical Ballad who was one-paced up the inside rail.

Desert Links
is trained by former champion jockey Basil Marcus for owners Etienne Braun, Eban Bouwer, Paul Loomes and Selwyn Marcus.




desert links cup trialDesert Links winning the Cup Trial with Greg Cheyne aboard
(Gold Circle)

Desert Links can open the new season on a high note for Summerhill stallion Kahal in the Gr.1 Canon Gold Cup (3200m) at Greyville tomorrow. Basil Marcus, who sends out the favourite, is no stranger to this marathon event, having won the country’s premier staying race twice as a jockey with Hedge in 1976 and Equilateral in 1982. Desert Links, who won the Gr.3 Cup Trial at Clairwood and followed that with a running-on fifth in the Durban July, has shown a distinct liking for the Durban track.

The Gold Cup is ably supported by the Gr.2 Gold Bracelet (2000m), where course specialist Outcome (Muhtafal), a surprise winner of the Gr.1 Garden Province on July day, will attempt to stretch her staying ability beyond a mile. She easily beat Gilded Minaret (Al Mufti) in the Garden Province and jumps from the plum inside draw.




desert_linksDesert Links
(Gold Circle)

The R1, 2 million Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1) is many a racefans’ favourite meeting of the year and the big race itself is always a fascinating contest.

David Thiselton reports that Mike de Kock broke his duck in the famous staying race last year with Thundering Star and has a chance of following up with joint top weight this year, Equal Image. This grey seven-year-old thrives on the coast at this time of the year and has also had a recent wind operation. He has clearly benefited from the procedure, having won his last two over 2800m and 3000m respectively, the latter being in the Grade 2 Gold Vase at Greyville, although he was probably lucky to get away with his hanging antics in that race. He unfortunately has the widest draw of all to overcome on Saturday.

The favourite is the Basil Marcus-trained Desert Links who has a superb record at Greyville having won three times and finished an excellent running-on fifth in the Vodacom Durban July. Bred and raised at Summerhill Stud by the late Sheikh Maktoum’s Gainsborough Stud, the son of Kahal has a fine draw of six, and has done well over the trip before, although he does have something of a bridesmaids tag over staying trips.

Mike Bass has four entries and the most interesting of them is undoubtedly Durban July fourth-placed, River Jetez. The four-year-old travels in a similarly relaxed manner to her full brother, Pocket Power, in her races and won last season’s Grade Two Gold Circle Oaks over 2400m. In the Durban July she was sent for home too early and it told in the final stages, but she was rallying at the line.





The final field for the 2008 renewal of Africa’s greatest horse race, the Vodacom Durban July, has just been released.

1      Pocket Power                  Mike Bass                  Draw 3
2      Buy and Sell                    Sean Tarry                  Draw 16
3      Floatyourboat                  Mike Bass                   Draw 14
4      Hunting Tower                Charles Laird             Draw 2
5      Succesful Bidder           Sean Tarry                   Draw 4
6      Catmandu                       Andre Kirsten             Draw 15
7      Eddington                       Dominic Zaki               Draw 18
8      Pick Six                           Charles Laird             Draw 11
9      She’s On Fire                Ormond Ferraris         Draw 10
10    Dancer’s Daughter      Justin Snaith                Draw 13              
11    Bound By Honour         Sean Tarry                    Draw 7
12    Silver Mist                      Joey Ramsden            Draw 6
13    Desert Links                 Basil Marcus               Draw 5
14    Strategic News             Dylan Cunha                Draw 20
15    Russian Sage              Justin Snaith                Draw 19
16    Galant Gagnant            Mike de Kock              Draw 17
17    Lion’s Blood                  Herman Brown           Draw 8
18    Tan Can                         Dean Kannemeyer     Draw 12
19    River Jetez                     Mike Bass                    Draw 9
20    Wendywood                  Sean Tarry                    Draw 1

We will have more on the field, from a Summerhill Stud perspective, in the days to come. 



DESERT LINKS delight for Basil Marcus

Basil Marcus
(Summerhill Stud)

Desert Links by KAHAL, a graduate of the Summerhill Ready to Run programme, delighted his connections by winning  Saturday’s R200 000 Cup Trial (Gr3) over 1800m at Clairwood.
Tab Online reports that this success should bring him very close to making the final field for the Vodacom Durban July.

Desert Links likes to race “cold’’, in the words of jockey Greg Cheyne, who had him ten lengths off the pace, three quarters of the way back, while Angel Flight went around the field from the widest of draws to set the pace under Piere Strydom and Surfin’ USA Braggadacio followed Sean Tarry’s filly into the straight, with Likeithot and Bucked Off further back.

Desert Links moved up swiftly and sliced through the field to take up the running at the 200m mark. Angel Flight was hanging tough, but Greg Cheyne said: “He changed legs and then gave me more to win a good race.’’ Tropical Empire unleashed a strong late run on the outside but was still 0.5 lengths adrift at the line, where Greg Cheyne eased his mount down.

Trainer Basil Marcus praised Denis Drier for looking after Desert Links in Durban. “Denis did a superb job,’’ said Basil Marcus.



South African Jockeys to take on the World


South African Jockeys
(Victor Iglesias/Pixissh)

Six of the world’s best jockeys will go head to head with South Africa’s top riders in an international jockeys’ challenge at the Steinhoff International Summer Cup race meeting at Turffontein on Saturday, 29th November.

European Bloodstock News reports that staging the first international jockeys’ contest in South Africa in some 20 years is a major coup for horse-racing and Gauteng racing operator Phumelela and will make this year’s Steinhoff International Summer Cup meeting one of the best events in South African horse-racing history.

The Summer Cup, one of the most famous races on the South African racing calendar, and several other major races will be run on the day and, in addition, six of the best jockeys in the world will compete against half a dozen of this country’s top riders in a thrilling four-race challenge.

Phumelela’s General Manager Marketing and Communications, Robert Garner, said the jockeys’ challenge would capture the imagination: “Our jockeys have been champions across the globe from Michael Roberts in the UK, to Felix Coetzee, Basil Marcus and Douglas Whyte in Hong Kong, and you can bet that the level of riding skills and excitement in the four challenge races on Cup Day will be phenomenal.”

Points will be awarded to jockeys on a sliding scale from first to last in each of the four challenge races and each horse in each race will be seeded in order to equalise the calibre of mount for the South African and international teams.



Verdict : JAY PEG puts the doubters to bed

Marsh Shirtliff and Team (AP Photo / Wong Maye-E)

There were two issues surrounding Jay Peg’s performance in the $ 3 million Singapore Airlines Cup (Gr.1) on Sunday. The first concerned the merit of his win in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (Gr.1) at the World Cup meeting in March, and whether or not that was something of a fluke. And the second involved the question of his “nationality” going into Sunday’s big event.

As far as the first question is concerned, his convincing 2.5 length victory on Sunday left his doubters in no doubt at all about his merit, particularly as the field included one that had run second to Archipenko in last month’s Queen Elizabeth Cup (Gr.1) in Hong Kong, as well as at least one quality Australian performer with Group One form.

In a race in which the pace was on at one helluva lick from the off, Jay Peg stalked the leader at a distance of some six lengths, and then, about 600 m about home, Anton Marcus let the reins out a notch, and whoosh! he was away. The harder they came from behind, the harder Jay Peg went, and he hit the line at a growing distance of more than two lengths, much to the joy of a not insignificant contingent of South African connections.

We mention his South African connections because there was some consternation before the race at a suggestion that he be entered as a representative of the United Arab Emirates, where he has been based since his departure from South Africa. Of course, he is South African-bred, South African owned, South African-trained, and he was South African mounted on Sunday, and there was nothing other than his preparation to suggest that he belonged anywhere else, so it was with some relief that racing fans in this country found they had a live candidate in the race.

The ecstasy in the grandstands was palpable, as Marsh Shirtliff, Etienne Braun, Paul Loomes and Selwyn Marcus embraced each other in a rare display of unbridled emotion, while one had to acknowledge the professionals involved in this horse’s career to date. It was an all-Marcus affair, with brother Basil Marcus having selected the horse as a yearling and trained him while he was involved in the domestic programme at home, brother Anton Marcus was abroad and brother Selwyn Marcus was among the owners. In sending the horse to Herman Brown Jnr for his Dubai and Singapore campaigns, the Marcus family were acknowledging a decades-long relationship between them and the Browns, when young Basil, (as he was then), was stable jockey to Herman Brown Snr in one of the most successful partnerships in racing history.

The son of Camden Park was bred and raised at Ken Truter and David Hepburn-Brown’s High Season Stud near Hermanus, and was a R140 000 yearling of his year, a far cry from the well over R40 million he has since earned at the races.

The entire Summerhill and Vuma teams salutes the achievements of this grand horse, who once again did the nation proud. From one champion team to another, we extend our warmest congratulations.




ASTRAPACK 1900 Nominations

Andre KirstenThe R300 000 Grade 2 Astrapak 1900, a key race on the Champions Season programme and a vital stepping stone into the 112th running of the Vodacom Durban July for some hopefuls, has drawn a massive entry of 46 horses including a number of major race winners.

Nominations for the race closed on Wednesday and the entries included a six-horse contingent from the powerful Charles Laird stable headed by last year’s Vodacom Durban July winner, Hunting Tower. The team also includes the previous GommaGomma Challenge winner PICK SIX.

There is a strong entry of 18 runners from Cape-based stables with Mike Bass nominating six horses, Dean Kannemeyer four and both Joey Ramsden and Glen Kotzen entering three horses.

The Gauteng entries include five from the Sean Tarry and four from the Mike de Kock yards.

A notable entry from Gauteng is the Makaarem gelding CATMANDU from the yard of Andre Kirsten. The four-year-old has an excellent record of five wins and nine places from 18 starts including placings in the Wolf Power Handicap, the Drumstar Handicap, the Horse Chestnut and an impressive third in the recent Gommagomma Challenge.

The Mike Bass team includes the Jet Master gelding Floatyourboat who ran second in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and was strongly fancied to win the J&B Met where he finished just 2.3 lengths behind stable companion, Pocket Power.

FLOATYOURBOAT (5G) 0.0 111 Mike Bass
HUNTING TOWER (5G) 0.0 111 Charles Laird
PICK SIX (4G) 0.0 109 Charles Laird
CATMANDU (4G) 0.0 107 Andre Kirsten
EQUAL IMAGE (ARG) (6G) 0.0 107 X Mike de Kock
JAGGED ICE (5G) 0.0 107 Dean Kannemeyer
APPELATE COURT (7G) 0.0 106 Glen Kotzen
SILVER MIST (5G) 0.0 106 Joey Ramsden
SURFIN’ USA (4G) 0.0 105 Mark Dixon
BRAGGADACIO (4G) 0.0 104 Mike de Kock
HILGROVE (5G) 0.0 104 Mike Bass
LIKEITHOT (5G) 0.0 103 Charles Laird
DESERT LINKS (4G) 0.0 102 Basil Marcus
OUTCOME (4F) 0.0 102 B Michael Miller
TAN CAN (3C) 0.0 102 Dean Kannemeyer
WONDER LAWN (4G) 0.0 102 Dean Kannemeyer
SINGING SWORD (5H) 0.0 101 Tyrone Zackey
APPLE-A-DAY (5G) 0.0 100 Sean Tarry
BILL OF RIGHTS (4G) 0.0 100 Mike Bass
CAUSATION (AUS) (3C) 0.0 100 Charles Laird
KILCOY CASTLE (3G) 0.0 100 Sean Tarry
SILVERPOINT (AUS) (6G) 0.0 100 Mike Azzie
FORK LIGHTENING (6G) 0.0 99 B Sean Tarry
NAUGHTY PRINCE (4G) 0.0 99 Mike Bass
GALAXY (BRZ) (3C) 0.0 98 B Dean Kannemeyer
OLYMPIC GOLD (5G) 0.0 98 Glen Kotzen
RIVER JETEZ (4F) 0.0 98 Mike Bass
SOLAR SYMBOL (3C) 0.0 98 B Charles Laird
NORTHERN TRIBE (5G) 0.0 97 Kumaran Naidoo
BOUND TO TRAVEL (4G) 0.0 95 Alec Laird
BOSANOVA (4G) 0.0 94 Mike de Kock
CAPE TRAFALGAR (4G) 0.0 94 Joey Ramsden
SMART BANKER (3G) 0.0 94 Charles Laird
WEST COAST GOLD (5G) 0.0 94 Michael Roberts
ALTIUS (IRE) (5H) 0.0 93 Joey Ramsden
ISLAND SWING (4F) 0.0 91 B Brian Wiid
GALANT GAGNANT (3G) 0.0 90 B Mike de Kock
MAGICAL BALLAD (6G) 0.0 90 Brett Crawford
WINTER SERENADE (4G) 0.0 89 Sean Tarry
I’M FAIR (ARG) (4C) 0.0 87 Geoff Woodruff
KEEN WARRIOR (NZ) (4G) 0.0 87 Tony Rivalland
METEOR SHOWER (IRE (5H) 0.0 87 B Mike Bass
ROYAL DAY (4G) 0.0 87 Bart Rice
SORBA EL GRIEGO (A (3G) 0.0 87 Glen Kotzen
LONDON GUEST (5G) 0.0 86 Tony Rivalland
HUMBOLDT (3C) 0.0 77 Sean Tarry
(46 Entries)

Extract from SA Horseracing