Ready to run graduate Igugu wins the Vodacom Durban July
Ready to run graduate Igugu wins the Vodacom Durban July

Click above to watch Ready To Run Graduates, Igugu and Pierre Jourdan,

finish “one-two” in the 2011 Vodacom Durban July (Grade 1)

(Image : John Lewis - Footage : SABC 3)

“Let’s get our chins up for a big one.”

Mick Goss - Summerhill Stud CEO
Mick Goss - Summerhill Stud CEO

Mick Goss

Summerhill Stud CEOGood Morning,

Given the racing man’s hereditary obsession with the irretrievable past, and allowing for the fallibility of memory, it may prove too much for us to recreate it just as it was. We all know that the “good old days” were never quite as good as we’d have ourselves believe, but we cannot remember a more fulfilling breeding season, punctuated by a patronage of our stallions which exceeded all-comers among recent years, an outstanding crop of foals (which probably explains the stallion bookings) and an excellent conception rate. Top that with an extraordinary Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale in November, and we’d have to be feeling bullish. Remember, this is 2011!

Let us explain why. We all know the world’s been in turmoil, but these numbers tell us that at Summerhill, we have a clientele whose enterprise, far-sightedness and guts exceeds everything we could wish for. People have put their heads down, knowing that when the market is frightened in one direction, you should be looking for opportunities in the other. They obviously read Warren Buffet. The broodmare demographics in the country, according to some stats I saw in the Cape a week ago, suggest that we have just over half the number of broodmares in circulation we had a decade ago, which means half the foal crop. We also know that racing needs a critical mass in the way of competitors to make the totes work, and it looks like we’re headed for a hefty shortfall in the way of available stock come 2014, when next year’s foals reach the market. We’ve not seen financial times as tough as these in most of our lifetimes, but South Africans are not unaccustomed to financial turbulence, and the art of knowing when to swim against the tide has worked for us just about every time we’ve pursued it.

Besides the numbers, there’s cause for further hope in the work being done at intergovernmental level in fixing our protocols for the facilitation of exports. Whatever prosperity the South African breeding and racing communities have enjoyed in the past decade, will pale in comparison with what we can achieve if we can get our horses to foreign destinations more expeditiously, with less fuss and less expense to our customers abroad. This could be a game-changer, but while we’re waiting for May next year when the IOC reviews the rules, we must turn our hopes to our expectations for next year’s sales.

Those who follow the industry closely will know that Bloodstock South Africa has for decades been the dominant agent for the sale of our horses. There’ve done us well in a laagered environment, with one shortcoming. Unlike the rest of the world, producers have had to carry the risk on their sales for as long as the buyer hasn’t settled, and the newly formed Cape Thoroughbred Sales brings some relief in this respect. While competition is a healthy aspect of any industry if BSA is to retain the loyalty of its vendors, it will have to find a solution to this problem to maintain its share of the turn, and we have to encourage its custodians to search long and hard, and quickly. Meanwhile though, CTS has embarked on an ambitious programme to showcase its sale at the end of January, and that, together with BSA’s National Sale (which has the benefit of an April date) should have the impact, with the cash that will flow back to breeders, of restoring the integrity and the value of our broodmare bands. Balance sheets will once again look like they should do, bankers will be more amenable and the breeding game will be back with a bang. There is a new energy in the marketing environment, and the pros are bringing their “A” game.

For some years now, Summerhill has been on many a travellers “to do” list at this time of year. Somehow though, despite the apparent constraints of the world economy, we’ve seen more people from more diverse places, than ever before. When Summerhill pumps, Hartford pumps, too, and vice versa. Judging by the number of Brits, Germans, French and Belgians among them, it’s obvious residents of the Eurozone have at last discovered the meaning of “value”, while the Aussies and the Mauritians have no such problems. Go to the blog ( for a peek.

Talking of Mauritians, Cheryl and I attended the International Jockeys Challenge earlier in the month, squeezed in between business in Jo’burg and Cape Town. There’s no free lunch here though, as we’re busy drumming up custom for the second Ready To Run (22nd February). The response from Mauritius tells us they remember the outcome of this year’s Vodacom Durban July, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see French the dominant lingo at Hartford the evening before. The old saying “If you snooze, you lose,” still applies. You won’t meet a more fervent bunch of racing aficionados anywhere, so book early if you want to join. Remember Imbongi, Bold Ellinore, Emperor Napoleon, Amphitheatre and Vangelis were all “left-overs” on the farm, and they all made millionaires of their owners, if they weren’t already.

Can you believe it, 2012 is upon us. Most of us would probably want to put a line through 2011, so why don’t we do that?

All the best for the festivities, and let’s get our chins up for a “big one”.

Mick & Cheryl Goss


summerhill stud, south africa
summerhill stud, south africa