KwaZulu Natal Racing Awards
(Photo : Gold Circle / Durban Country Club)
NINE OUT OF TEN :
THAT’S THE SUMMERHILL STORY
The Breeder’s trophy at the annual KZN Racing Awards was inaugurated ten years ago, and its recipient is determined by stakes earned in Sharks’ territory. It’s easy to be blasé about a provincial award when you’ve already won the National title, but there’s always something to be said for being acknowledged in your own backyard. Friday evening’s gala function at the historic Sir Herbert Baker-designed Durban Country Club, was attended by some big hitters from out of town, notably champion trainer Mike de Kock, Sean Tarry, Chris van Niekerk and Sheikh Mohammed’s personal representative, Jehan Malherbe.
Getting over the line in a competition of this sort, often depends on the plans trainers make for the horses you’ve sold them, so achievement in the bigger scheme of the nation’s racing and breeding affairs, doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the top spot in any particular locality. Once the hammer falls at the auction, your horse’s fate is in the hands of the conditioner, and he will take you where he chooses, and where he sees the pickings.
It’s also true that he might not take you anywhere in particular, as was the case with last season’s biggest earner, Pierre Jourdan, whose racing year ended with a well earned rest after his exertions in the SA Derby (Gr.1). As much as he might have muddied the waters of the Three Year Old Championship if he’d come for the KZN winter season, it wasn’t to be, nor was he going to contribute to Summerhill’s local earnings as a result.
That said, Friday evening we were the proud recipients of our ninth KZN Breeder of the Year title in ten years, wresting the trophy back after a season’s “grace” from the Scott Bros’ Highdown Stud, a beautiful farm on the Fort Nottingham side of Nottingham Road. Perennially among the country’s top breeders for several decades, Highdown achieved its zenith during the Jungle Cove era, when they ranked second on more than one occasion to the mighty Birch Brothers. Their achievements in those days were the stuff of legend, notable for the fact that even after Graham Beck’s acquisition of five times champion sire, Jungle Cove, the Scotts continued to breed the best of that stallion’s progeny from the few shares they retained. This year, the local title was no forgone conclusion either, as these fellows came rattling back with a late flurry from their excellent galloper, Orbison, winner of the Champions’ Cup (Gr.1) at Clairwood, following a third placing in the Vodacom Durban July.
We salute them as worthy competitors.