You’d expect it of a farm that has been at the head of the nation’s breeding affairs for most of the new millennium, yet it would be remiss of Summerhill if it didn’t share its faith in the horses it’s just sent to Jo’burg.
Well, at least something is rising! The past fortnight has felt a little like Armageddon, though South Africans can hardly say it’s unique; this country of ours has come back from the brink so many times, it’s almost as if political events are sent to test us.
When William Shakespeare recorded the standout event in the reign of Richard III, he couldn’t possibly have foreseen a replay almost half a millennium later in little old Mooi River. Students of literature will recall that it was on Bosworth Field that England’s good king had offered up his kingdom for a horse, and if it weren’t for the fact that the auctioneer missed his bid, we’d have no Princes William and Harry today.
So the R699,000 average at last month's Cape Premier Yearling Sale was a little beyond your pocket - Summerhill Stud have just what the doctor ordered at their 2017 Emperors Palace Summer Ready-To-Run Sale.
You never know where the good ones are going to come from, more so given the history of the number of outstanding racehorses Summerhill has sold right off the farm by stallions you might unkindly describe as past their “sell-by-date”.
Brave Tin Soldier was the only colt of his generation to win Group Ones at both two and three. But his dad Brave Tin Soldier is no one-trick pony. Sean Tarry has his highly-regarded Fieldmarshal Fenix while Geoff Woodruff scored with the promising Private Swarovski.
John Boyce says that if Frankel's achievements with his first crop juveniles in 2016 are anything to go by, it looks like we may have discovered another super stallion. Time will tell. Another year will reveal all.
Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen, 1995 was a landmark year in my life as a racehorse breeder. It was the first time South Africa had been invited to participate in the Asian Racing Conference after the democratisation of our politics, and it was also the last time I had the honour of addressing the International Breeders’ Conference in Paris, when we negotiated our first export protocol with the European Union.
Galileo reclaims the money title; with just 10 days left in the year, he has 2016 progeny earnings of an incredible $30,082,927, and once again leads all six black-type categories, with 39 BTW, 71 BTH, 30 GSW, 54 GSH, a mind-blowing 14 Group 1 winners (by comparison, Dubawi, Tapit and North America number two sire Curlin have five each), and 24 G1H. Dubawi is second in Europe, with the earners of $17,886,202.
We hear plenty about Galileo (Ire), and rightly so. He is the stallion of our generation whose influence will be discussed by pedigree aficionados for decades, if not centuries, to come. For as much as I'm glad to be alive and writing about breeding under his reign, I've long harboured a preference for Galileo's erstwhile stablemate Montjeu (Ire), who was lost to us almost five years ago.
With the pace at which the European bloodstock community entered the home stretch of its gruelling autumn-winter cycle still full of running, we were starkly reminded of the contrasting fortunes of those who transact across open borders and the shackles with which local horsemen have had to contend for decades in getting our bloodstock between provinces, let alone across borders.