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South African Bloodstock and Cazador
South African Bloodstock and Cazador

South African Bloodstock Industry

(Image : GeneEngNews/FWP/SAStamp)

“The industry is bigger than all of us.”

There has been any amount of conjecture about the Cape Premier Sale, and the company behind it, Cazador, reminiscent of the times when Chris Smith Bloodstock’s venture into major sales polarized the breeding industry twenty years ago. South Africa cannot afford a revisitation of those days, particularly not in our financial climate, and it’s important that we keep cool heads. The grapevine is a terrifying thing sometimes, and without the facts and the assurances, breeders had legitimate concerns about where sales were going, and in particular, in the wake of last year’s outcomes, what impact the Cape Premier Sale would have on the broader programme.

Summerhill has stayed outside the debate, preferring to keep a balanced counsel on the matter, while encouraging both sides in their attempts to find one another. By “sides”, we mean Cazador and Bloodstock South Africa, the parent body of which we are all members.

It seems there may even have been reservations needing answers within the “big five” camp in Cazador, but on the back of conversations we’ve held in the wake of their meeting on Monday, it would appear that these have been put to rest, and that they’ve all agreed to be part of the party. Among the outcomes is the fact that the shares in Cazador will be held by a trust, the beneficiaries of which would be the South African breeding industry, an admirable enough gesture. In addition, the participation on the board of members beyond the confines of the Western Cape, would be solicited, and to that end, Dr. Ashley Parker and Summerhill’s Mick Goss, were approached.

Summerhill’s position on industry matters is well known. We’ve always adopted the view that the industry is bigger than all of us, and its interests should be served first. What’s good for the breed should be put ahead of all other considerations when it comes to breeding matters, and what’s good for sales should be put on the front burner when it comes to the commercial aspects of our lives. The interests of the broader community can only be served by an even-handed approach to all these things, and both Ashley and our own man have taken the view that joining the Cazador board is a step in the industry’s best interests.

There is a parallel case in Australia, where the major commercial breeders formed a body which ultimately became known as Aushorse, and for some years they operated independently of their own breed society. In the end, the interests of the two bodies have been merged for the betterment of the industry, the one serving the members and the breed, and the other their mutual commercial interests. Whether this is a model for South Africa, remains to be seen, but what we do know about the Australian model, is that it’s enormously successful. What Australia does have though (and which doesn’t apply here), is the benefit of two major rival sales companies, both independent, to stimulate the sales market, which keeps both of them on their toes. That is good for the breeders and good for their customers, and therefore good for Australia.

Bloodstock SA has a proud record in the promotion of its sales, particularly the three it hosts at “home”, yet the regional options in the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have, for a long time, been rather “iffy” affairs. The Cape Premier Sale last year was a rousing marketing success, and while it may not have brought about every result its promoters would have wished for in its inaugural year, the truth is that it did much for the consciousness of the world when it comes to South Africa, our horses and our marketing capabilities.

There is an opportunity now for Cazador to press on and do its best with the Cape Premier Sale, while Bloodstock SA gives the Ready To Run and the National Sale (its next two biggest assignments,) everything it has.

We live in interesting times, and readers of these columns can be assured, Summerhill will continue to act in the only interests it knows how to serve: those of the industry, and we will work to ensure the preservation of harmony which we’re told, both BSA and Cazador are anxious to achieve.

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mick goss thoroughbred breeder
mick goss thoroughbred breeder

Mick Goss

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

Expand the market, branch out in new directions

and take an interest in the racing operators.

In the latest Parade Magazine, Summerhill Stud boss Mick Goss marks his fifth championship by telling Michael Clower how the bloodstock industry must help itself in these difficult times.

The Summerhill team may already be odds-on to win their sixth successive breeders’ championship but Mick Goss is more concerned about the bloodstock industry finding its way out of recession. He also wants the two racing operators to hurry up with their long-talked of marriage.

‘There is a danger that we begin retreating in the face of the current economic turmoil,’ says Goss who is a firm believer in looking on adversity as a time of opportunity, ‘and we need to broaden the base of our export markets.’

He maintains that too much reliance is being placed on Dubai - ‘our biggest market and the conduit through which we’ve reached the world. But what would happen if racing in Dubai were to slow down?

‘We have to find other outlets for our horses and ensure that delivery issues are resolved, including those connected to protocols and quarantine programmes.’

Goss points out that breeders are some of the biggest investors in the country’s racing and bloodstock industry and says they ‘should take a more active interest in ensuring the welfare of Gold Circle and Phumelela. There is little doubt that the two operators would benefit from being a single entity and we simply have to find ways of overcoming the obstacles. The benefits are too big to ignore.’

On the Summerhill front he believes that the recent addition of Admire Main and A.P. Arrow to the stallion ranks will prove a significant step forward. “By laying new foundations, we should be in a position to capitalise on opportunities when the tide turns - and in Admire Main we’ve forged a new alliance with one of the most potent entities in the game.’

Bound to win, year after year…

With five consecutive championships in the bag, Summerhill is beginning to assume the mantle enjoyed by some of the great breeding names in the past, albeit without so far the big race dominance of such as the Birch brothers.

Views on Summerhill and its charismatic boss are mixed. The more jealous of the Mooi River stud’s rivals say it is bound to win year after year because it has by far the most mares, and because any breeder boarding a mare there has to register the progeny as Summerhill-bred even if Summerhill only own a small percentage.

The more charitable also say that Summerhill is bound to win, but because the boss is such a determined and inspirational character that he would get to the top at whatever he did.

‘There will always be people who suggest that our numbers are bound to deliver the championship, and there is some truth in that,’ Goss concedes. ‘But these days there are few mares in which we hold much less than 50%. However the reality is that, if we hadn’t gone this way [partnerships], we would never have rebuilt the broodmare band to its present strength because we wouldn’t have had the resources to do so.’

Ten years ago the entire Summerhill mare contingent was put under the hammer because, when Goss bought out elder brother Pat, he put together a tax-saving deal to attract new investors. He ended up with more than 600 people owning a stake in the mares. The period of investment was ten years and the assets then had to be sold.

‘When those partnerships ended in 1999 and we held a dispersal, the industry was precarious, racing was in collapse and there was no guaranteeing its future.’

Goss’s answer was to attract new investors, many of them from overseas, and so the principle of having partnerships in the vast majority of the mares was continued.

‘Today more than 300 horses on the farm are foreign-owned, and I doubt that there is any other property in the world housing such a large concentration of foreign-owned horses.’

Gambling on stallion judgement…

The mares, of course, are only half the equation. Summerhill, like almost every other stallion-owning stud, has had to pick its sires carefully and gamble on its own judgement. Those five championships are a set-in-stone testimony to its ability to pick correctly and to select the right stallion for each mare.

Summerhill has had considerable help from the Maktoum family and this traces back to Goss’s famous Newmarket speech in 1990 – ‘South Africa gave several million lives to the British cause in two world wars. We also exported 450,000 horses - and none of them ever came back. We are in trouble and we need your help.’

Dubai’s racing-passionate ruling family promptly offered to send stallions and have gone on doing so to this day. ‘The venture with the Maktoums was not immediately successful,’ Goss recalls. ‘The best of the early stallions was Braashee but he suffered from low fertility and rather plain progeny, and he was not a commercially-appealing stallion.

‘What he did do, though, was to illustrate to us that we should set a benchmark for racing class. This should measure up, at the very least, to the successful stallions of the best periods in South Africa’s breeding history.

‘In fact, with the number of mares we have at Summerhill, it would have been commercial suicide not to develop a band of stallions capable of making a contribution, and our success has been substantially based on the patronage of these stallions.’

Many people who win awards or championships tend to downplay the achievement. Goss makes no pretence at false modesty – instead he deflects the credit to the Summerhill staff – but what he does have to say on this point makes interesting and informative reading.

‘We were never ambitious about winning the championship. All we did was to do everything in the best way we could. That was our standard.

‘I find that, if you set goals, you are disappointed more often than not. But if you set out to do things as best you can, most times the rewards take care of themselves.’

A recipe for success if ever there was one!


summerhill stud evening
summerhill stud evening

“…it provides you with the satisfaction of knowing that a proper day’s work has been done.”

(Photo : Greig Muir)

Lest we should appear to have taken our fifth consecutive Breeders’ Championship for granted, allow us to quickly set your minds at rest. While it was obviously something of a fait accompli a good few months back, we have never forgotten the honour this premiership bestows on our farm. We remember every day, that in all of recorded history only six entities have aspired to the title, and without doubt, it’s the tightest held championship in all of racing, by the standards of any country anywhere.

We were never ambitious about the Breeders’ Championship, because as often as not, ambitions tend to disappoint, but what we were ambitious about were the standards we set for ourselves. Most times, if you do things the best you can, and you aspire to be world-class in all your endeavours, the rest takes care of itself, and while that wont necessarily materialise in titles, it provides you with the satisfaction of knowing that a proper day’s work has been done.

While we’re on the subject, it’s time for us to acknowledge the efforts of one of the great teams of the world. Great sacrifices have been made here in our 30 years in business, and great labour has been undertaken. Granted, Summerhill has done its best, within the limits of its resources to provide our team with opportunities to grow, including 32 international scholarships for our previously disadvantaged community, but the beneficiaries have more than compensated for that investment. They have developed a new sense of their own self-worth, and they’ve lifted the standards by which we operate to levels we never anticipated, and today, it’s time for all of us to lift our hats and salute.

It’s true, you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.

south african thoroughbred breeders log 2009/2009
south african thoroughbred breeders log 2009/2009


ap arrow clark handicap video
ap arrow clark handicap video
admire main hanshin racecourse video
admire main hanshin racecourse video

Please click above to watch

A.P.Arrow and Admire Main in action

(Footage : YouTube) 

“More Bulldust Part 6”

Extract from Summerhill Sires Brochure 2009-2010

Let me start with a confession. At Summerhill we’re optimists. There seems little point in being anything else. In tough times, the virtues that inspire us are old-fashioned and unglamorous, and it’s good to discover there are hidden reserves of majesty and honour, genius and luck.

At last, we can retire the analogy between our financial circumstances and the Great Depression. Whatever had to be done has been done, and we must now get on with our lives. In the horse business, for a change, we’re the lucky ones. There are still Julys, Mets and Summer Cups to be won, and decisions taken now will only be judged in 2012. The world will be much wiser by then.

Twenty years ago, in similarly dire times, we went out and courted the patronage of Dubai’s Rulers. That changed our lives, as well as the local racing landscape. Times like these call for responses like this, and on this occasion we’ve looked to Japan for salvation. The Japanese changed the world with Toyota, and the Yoshida family have made a similar impression on the realm of the racehorse.

Many people have given up on breeding the Classic racehorse. The horse with the aptitude to excel at the distances of our best races, and then travel abroad, and do the same at distances beyond, if necessary.

Most people may have given up, but not the Yoshidas. And certainly not Summerhill. Relationships like these can define the life of a farm, and we’ve kicked ours off with a horse that took just three starts to become one of the household names of his generation. Three wins from three starts, two in Graded Stakes, and a combined victory margin approaching sixteen lengths, left many a fan with the idea that in ADMIRE MAIN, here was the heir apparent to his own phenomenal sire, Sunday Silence. His effort in his country’s biggest race for the Classic generation suggests they may have been right, but the intrusion of injury robbed us of the opportunity to judge him properly.

We simply don’t know what extraordinary feats he may have been capable of, but from what he’d revealed so far, he was certainly out of the ordinary.

Barry Irwin is a remarkably astute judge of a racehorse. When Barry speaks, we listen. Not long ago, he was asked to value a son of the “Emperor” of American stallions in the hope he might be secured for South Africa. His response was such, the hope was abandoned. Events since then have conspired in our favour, and when A.P.ARROW finally came within range, it was time for action.

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email us

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please email Marlene at for your copy

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Click below to read “Bulldust”

Part 1 to Part 6

bulldust part 1
bulldust part 1
bulldust part2
bulldust part2
bulldust part 3
bulldust part 3
bulldust part 4
bulldust part 4
bulldust part5
bulldust part5
bulldust part 6
bulldust part 6

Summerhill Sires Video 2009 - 2010

summerhill stallions video
summerhill stallions video

Please click above to load video.

If you have a slow connection, please be patient.

Thank you.

Mick Goss presents the Summerhill Stud Stallions for the 2009 - 2010 season. The lineup includes AP Arrow, Admire Main, Malhub, Stronghold, Solskjaer, Ravishing, Kahal, Muhtafal, Mullins Bay and Way West.

Summerhill Stud : The Genuine Article
Summerhill Stud : The Genuine Article

For more information please visit :

Royal Ascot history for TIGER RIDGE and TRIPPI

royal ascotRoyal Ascot
(Photos : Getty/AP Photo/F1)


The purchase for stud duty in South Africa of A.P. Indy’s Storm Cat half brother, TIGER RIDGE, and Florida’s number one stallion, TRIPPI, both set new records in terms of the cost of sire-power for this country. Many a pundit was left gob-smacked at the outlay, but the protagonists behind their acquisition were of the faith that if we want this country to go to the next level as a nursery for world class horses, we have to do what it takes.

It’s times like the ones we live in though, that make us question our judgement, that tell us to reinvest our beliefs, Doubt becomes the refuge of the pessimist. Yet it’s times like this that can set us apart, and determine our futures.

Mary Slack and Gaynor Rupert, the principals behind these horses, could hardly have chosen a better place to vindicate their views than the number one race meeting in the world. Royal Ascot is not only populated by the people that matter in racing, but the message goes out to tens of millions on television. On the opening day, TIGER RIDGE displayed his wares with the impressive victory of his American-trained son STRIKE THE TIGER, in the Windsor Castle Stakes (L).

Yesterday, TRIPPI’s daughter, JEALOUS AGAIN, demolished a field of England’s best two-year-olds in the Queen Mary Stakes (Gr2), providing her adventurous American trainer, Wesley Ward, with his second Royal Ascot winner from three starters. No doubt the enterprise of this man will ensure this is by no means the last sortie among US trainers to this great showpiece.

Talking of enterprise, our top hats off to Wilgerbosdrift Stud (TIGER RIDGE) and Drakenstein Stud (TRIPPI). The entire team at Summerhill is here, saluting.


Saturday’s smashing victory in the greatest Derby of them all, the one at Epsom Downs in England, by Sea The Stars was a moment to remember.

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(Photo : Summerhill Stud)


Thursday’s issue of England’s Racing Post, the foremost daily newspaper on racing, carried a story on the significance of times down Ascot’s straight course. Of significance to Summerhill and Stronghold, the horse we proclaimed one of the best to enter our stallion ranks, is the fact he posted the best time performance in the history of Ascot’s course in his big effort in the 2006 renewal of the Royal Hunt Cup.

Stronghold’s effort should be seen in the context that the same course is the venue for the running of one of the world’s most celebrated Group One miles, the Queen Anne Stakes, which takes place during Royal Ascot week, coming up in a fortnight’s time.

His trainer, John Gosden, always believed Stronghold had a Group One race in him, and it was for that reason that he did not get to his second career at Summerhill until 2008.

Following his big run at Ascot in 2006, Stronghold was injured as the starting favourite for the season end Challenge (Gr.2) at Newmarket, and then suffered a career-crippling injury in recovery after keyhole surgery on his knee in the off-season. As a result, he only saw the racecourse once thereafter, and that was in the Hungerford Stakes (Gr.2) where, after a twelve month layoff, he snatched the lead with a furlong to go, only to go down to a flying Red Evi (triple Group One heroine) in the dying strides, when both his condition and his soundness finally yielded to the demands of a spectacular finish.

Either way, this survey in the Racing Post reminds us how fortunate we are to have a horse of Stronghold’s credentials on the roster. No wonder the man who bred Danehill and the best Danehills since, Prince Khalid Abdullah, retained a rare breeding interest in this fellow, just as he did with Danehill.

Racing Post Thursday 4 June 2009

“Since Ascot re-laid the straight course in 2005, it is fair to say that there have been some unusual results at the track which have left students of the form book scratching their heads.

For starters, you can never be confident about where the fastest ground is, although you only have to look at the stalls numbers of the horses who dominated last season’s Golden Jubilee – the first five home were drawn in the five lowest-numbered stalls – to see that track biases can have a massive impact on the outcome of these races on the straight course.

Then there’s the track’s slick drainage, which means that it nearly always rides fast - just look at the GoingStick readings, which often imply it is riding much quicker than the official going description – with the possible exception being those races staged in the immediate aftermath of a heavy downpour.

There is also the track’s crossover with the all-weather, as we’ve seen many horses whose form has suggested they’re much better on artificial surfaces, particularly Polytrack, run well on the turf at Ascot.

This could be down to the fact that some horses really let themselves down on the unique racing surface and it places an emphasis on speed by rewarding horses who travel well in their races.

Nearly all of all-weather racing is staged on oval circuits, but I suspect that if we had all-weather racing on straight courses, the style of racing would be similar to what we’ve been seeing at Ascot.

In short, it’s a track for specialists, and as many of the races at Royal Ascot are staged on the straight course I thought it would be interesting to bring attention to some of the horses, many of whom are heading to Royal Ascot, that have been able to post significant performances on the clock on the straight course.

Races over 7f and 1m

The big handicap over 7f at Royal Ascot is the Buckingham Palace Stakes, but the entries for that race are yet to be published, and hopefully Clive Brittain’s Al Muheer will be handed an entry.

As a three-year-old last August he recorded an adjusted time of 74.64 over 6f, the sixth best time for that distance by a three-year-old and the best by a three-year-old in a handicap, while he also recorded a good time over a straight mile in July. He is on an attractive mark of 96 and 7f should be perfect for him.

But the big ante-post handicap over the straight mile is the Royal Hunt Cup. It’s routinely run at a strong pace and the top three adjusted times were all posted n the race.

Stronghold, who finished second off 9st 8lb in 2006, leads the way on 99.90 seconds, while last year’s second Docofthebay and winner Mr. Aviator fill second and third spots.

Docofthebay carried 9st 6lb when recording that time, but has slipped down the handicap, so will shoulder just 8st 11lb this season. If he can recapture his peak form, he looks extremely well handicapped.”

(Straight course since 2006)

TIME (sec)
Miss Andretti June 07 6 60.20
Dandy Man June 07 4 60.34
Magnus June 07 5 60.40
Takeover Target June 07 8 60.50
Takeover Target June 06 7 60.83
Soldier’s Tale June 07 6 73.53
Takeover Target June 07 8 73.57
Asset June 07 4 73.67
War Artist 5 73.68
Red Clubs June 07 4 73.77
Jeremy June 06 3 87.40
Red Clubs 3 87.75
Laa Rayb 4 87.79
Nans Joy Aug 08 4 87.79
Asset June 06 3 87.80
Stronghold June 06 4 99.50
Docofthebay Aug 08 4 100.49
Mr.Aviator Aug 08 4 100.50
Soviet Song June 06 6 100.59
Cesare June 06 5 100.82

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SINGAPORE'S PREMIER RACEDAY : The South African Challenge

 Mythical Flight
Kranji, Singapore, 15 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club)

Defending Singapore Airlines International Cup Champion, Jay Peg, will jump from stall five in Sunday’s feature event at Kranji, much to the delight of trainer Herman Brown.

“It’s a good draw and gives us plenty of options to ride close to the pace, as he normally does. A lot will also depend on how quick the horses on the inside go,” said Herman Brown.


In 2008, Jay Peg sat quietly in second spot before sweeping into the lead for a dominant victory in the 2000m showcase race. The European Bloodstock News reports that the handsome bay has failed to win since and has run below par in three starts since undergoing knee surgery, most recently finishing down the course behind Gladiatorus and Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free.


Mike de Kock’s charge, Bankable, will jump from stall three and is considered a possible danger to Audemars Piguet QE II Cup winner and race favourite, Presvis.

“That’s great,” said Mike de Kock’s assistant trainer Trevor Brown following the draw. “He (Bankable) is versatile with a good turn of foot and he’s had a good preparation.”


Sean Tarry, was left shaking his head in utter disbelief when his speed merchant, Mythical Flight, came away with barrier 11 for the 1200m KrisFlyer Sprint, where defending champion Takeover Target, well drawn on the inside, is the likely favourite.


“It’s a shocker. I’ve said all along we’ll be in trouble if he draws double digits,” said Sean Tarry, who was hoping to draw as close to the rail as possible but added, “We’re here to race. We wanted an inside draw, which can be vital here, but he has very good gate speed, he’s looking well and moving well.”


Former South African trainer Patrick Shaw, now based in Singapore, was also left deflated after drawing stall nine for local hero, the undefeated three-year-old, Rocket Man, owned by old friend of Summerhill, Fred Crabbia.


“Yes, I’m disappointed with the draw but we have to move on now. It’s not the end of the world but it makes his (Rocket Man) job a bit harder,” said Patrick Shaw.


The Australian-bred Rocket Man is the highest rated galloper in Singapore and his wins include both the Kranji and Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprints this season. Rocket Man is a half-brother to the Charles Laird-trained Gr1 winner Our Giant.


Summerhill Stud wishes all the South African connections “Voorspoed” and the greatest success on Singapore’s premier raceday.

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Breeding Racehorses : A Matter of Family

 goss family

The Goss Family
(Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)


The tradition of producing quality racehorses goes back almost eight decades among the Gosses. But their admiration for horses as a family has its origins in ancient Ireland, before the Battle of Boyne.


Ever since, they’ve held a warm affection for the sport of horseracing, and especially for the animals at the heart of it. The custodianship of that association was never more proudly revered than under the stewardships of Mick’s great grandfather, Edward, his grandfather Pat, and his own father Bryan, and today the manifestation of their obsession lies in everything you see at Summerhill.


It is true that in modern times, Summerhill” is a splendid, much-envied brand. Because in the eighty years since they first started breeding racehorses on a tiny scale at The Springs in east Griqualand, the Goss family have never breached the founding principles of excellence and audaciousness, laid down by the man who embodied them.


What you’re looking at here, all over again, is history. And more history, in the making. And you’re more than welcome to join us in making some of your own. Because there’s one thing that’s as true today as it was at the Battle of Boyne. We only win if you do.

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Catherine Hartley accepts the award for Breeder of the Year on behalf of Summerhill Stud from Peter Miller  at the 2009 Highveld Racing Awards
(Photo : JC Photographics)

It may not be the National title, but it’s certainly one we’ve always coveted, and we’re very proud to hold. For the second consecutive year, Summerhill was last night named Highveld Breeder Of The Year, and Vuma’s Catherine Hartley was on hand to pick up the silverware. Gauteng is the most competitive racing environment on the continent of Africa, and we’ve always counted ourselves lucky to be among the finalists for this prestigious award.

It’s probably an appropriate moment to revisit our standing on the National Breeders Log as well, where our lead is approaching R5 million. We’re reminded at this time of an advertisement we wrote in May 2005, as we marched to our National Breeders’ Premiership, and we thought we were reasonably comfortable with a R2 million margin. While the big lady still has a bit of singing to do, it’s a comforting thought that there is a sound buffer between us and our pursuers.

We never forget though, the sacrifices our people have made towards this achievement. It’s a sobering thought that, in our 30th year in business, that we should be so deeply indebted to so many, who’ve given up so much in getting us there.

sporting postClick here to view
South African National Breeders Log

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A few National Sales comments...

pen and handwriting


barry irwinBarry IrwinTeam Valor’s Barry Irwin is famous for having proclaimed South Africa “the best kept secret in the racing game. “You’ve raised world-class horses in a world-class environment, and you have some of the world’s best horsemen”. About this year’s sale, Barry fingered the draft in general as the best by some stretch he had encountered. Some statement from one of the world’s greatest “pickers”. We often wonder whether the partners in Team Valor appreciate the talents of this man, who has separated himself from virtually every yearling selector we know, in achieving the hit rates for which Team Valor has become renowned. He’s not only a good picker though, he’s a supreme strategist, places his horses in the right places at the right time, and he seldom misses an opportunity.




Summerhill’s draft was outstanding, in what was the most outstanding collection of horses I’ve seen in nine visits to South Africa’s National Yearling showpiece”.




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Karel Miedema reviews National Yearling Sale 2009

Uncle Tommy
(Photo : Jean Stanley)

karel miedemaKarel Miedema Sporting PostThe world can look in wonder at South Africa’s flagship National Sale, the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale. True, the sale’s aggregate and average price followed world-wide trends downward, but closer scrutiny tells a remarkable story, writes Karel Miedema for the Sporting Post.


“The sale as a whole was down on the 2008 record breaker. Last year 501 lots accumulated a total of R200million, compared to 490 lots for R152million this time round. That’s a drop of R48million. Taking the top 10% of lots by sex for 2009, we find 26 colts selling for R750k or more, totaling R29million.


Similarly, 24 fillies sold for R500k or more, totaling R18million. Added together this gives R47million. Last year 40 colts went for R750k or more, and 43 fillies for R500k and up. Together they made for a total of R93million. The difference between these two top 10% totals is R46million – just about the amount by which the sale went down. In other words, the drop in R47million aggregate can be entirely attributed to the pricedrop amongst the top 10% of lots sold.


Median prices by sex tell their story, too. The median price is the mid-point between highest and lowest price, and in the case of horse auctions tells a truer story than a straight average would, because the high (extreme) prices have a lesser effect. The median price for colts in 2009 was R250k, down only 9% from R275k in 2008. As was predicted based on what happened at previous yearling sales this year, demand for fillies fell through the floor. The 2009 median for the weaker sex was R200k, down 20% versus the R250k in 2008. The overall median was down 15%, to R220k from R260k last year.


Given this background, the conclusion must be that South Africa is still on a high and that pre-sale doomsayers are eating humble pie, indeed. The future looks rosy.


Post sale comments from visitors echoed these sentiments. “In the current economic climate the South African National Yearling Sale is without a doubt the best performing thoroughbred sale in the world,’’ said Australian buyer Paul Guy, echoing auctioneer Steve Davis’ earlier assessment that this was his “strongest sale in the last six’’ he’d conducted around the globe.

Team Valor International’s Barry Irwin, on his fifth successive visit, secured eight foals and summed up the event, saying, “The value here is superb, it is a joy to come to this sale and I’ll be booking for next year.’’


Barry Irwin, renowned as one of the shrewdest buyers on the planet, described his purchase of Klawervlei Stud’s Lot 587, a daughter of Captain Al from Grade 1 winner Roxanne, as “incredible, because I would have gone to well over R1million for her and paid only R600k.’’ He added: “She’s probably the nicest looking filly I’ve seen. They don’t come better looking than this.’’


South Africa’s Champion breeders Summerhill Stud reaped the rewards for their great achievements of the last few years, selling the top-priced colt and filly at the sale. The Kahal colt, Uncle Tommy, a half-brother to Rebel King, was knocked down to Mike Bass for R2.4 million, while Team Valor bought first-season sire Solskjaer’s daughter Matara Garden for R1.5 million.”

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ORMOND FERRARIS : Doyen of South African Trainers

ormond ferraris (heather morkel)Ormond Ferraris
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

“Millionaire’s Row”

It’s a well documented fact that Summerhill was the last of the big farms in South Africa to register it’s first million Rand deal at the sales. Whether that’s a reflection of a lack of marketing finesse, or a sense of treating the market with respect, will forever be a matter of debate. But what is so, is that all of a sudden it’s “raining” millionaires at Summerhill.

We kicked off at the Ready to Run Sale in November, with a ROCK OF GIBRALTAR colt registering R2.2million, a GALILEO filly R1.5million, and a MUHTAFAL colt at R1million, and coupled with Sunday’s R2.4million and R1.5million respectively, that’s five in the space of as many months.

Whether he read our adverts, proclaiming the Summerhill racehorse the Toyota of the South African industry, is difficult to say, but it seems the doyen of our trainers, Ormond Ferraris, must have at least cast his eyes over the ad. A man who, in common with the best of his countrymen, respects excellent quality, unparalleled dependability and outstanding value, as much as any, the attributes for which Toyota has become famous, are exactly what Ormond must have seen in this draft. Signing as he did on Sunday for no fewer than four (25%) of the horses put through the ring. So for us the consolation lies not only in the value he got, but also in where they’re going.

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The El Padrino’s of the Game

emperors palace sale (michael nefdt)

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales 2009

If you’re a Summerhill devotee, you’d have to be more than satisfied at this weekend’s events. Both the top colt and top filly of the sale, were graduates of our draft. With IMBONGI’s sister, a stunning daughter of debutante sire, SOLSKJAER, bewitching the attention of no less an investor than Team Valor’s Barry Irwin, who had to fend off two bouts of international competition to claim his prize at R1.5million.

In as classic an event as any breeder could wish for, three “patron saints” of the game clashed in a mighty battle for the right to own UNCLE TOMMY, a strikingly good-looking son of KAHAL, and half brother to aspiring Sprint champion, REBEL KING.

The early stages witnessed a sparring match between the incorrigible Markus Jooste and his right-hand man, Charles Laird, located high up and out of sight, in what might be called the ”Gods”, an appropriate station for two men who wagered as much as they did on the day’s trade.

Just outside the Equine Insurance cubicle, Mike de Kock took up position for Dubai’s Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose eagerness to acquire this son of his own stallion, was evidenced in the rapidity with which Mike answered Charles Laird’s bidding.

The time came though when Mike called it a day, and just as it looked as though the Jooste team might fire the winning salvo, POCKET POWER’S conditioner Mike Bass, joined the fray with a determination that looked likely to prevail. And prevail it did. But not without one helluva scrap, as the two teams traded their way through the R2million barrier and onwards to R2.4million.

So who was it behind Mike Bass? No less a man than one of the EL PADRINO’S of the game, Graham Beck, who has terrorised under-bidders for decades now. These two, Jooste and Beck, have ascended the stairs to the loftiest of stations, willing to put their money and their reputations on the line for the sake of a racehorse, and the honour of beating all-comers when the chips are down.

In the end that’s what this sport is all about, and it’s thanks to them that the drama of the sales ring remains one of the most exhilarating contests of our game.

South African Resilience Dictates National Sales

south african fight (michael nefdt)“…it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale
“Tommy” Tops the Trade

Readers of the Summerhill Sire’s Brochure last year, will recall the statement “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”, that probably sums up the resilience of South Africans. And if ever you needed evidence of it, you’d have wanted a seat at the ringside at Sunday’s proceedings.

An average price of R321,000 after three hundred Lots had been traded, and an aggregate closing on R80million, tells it’s own story, with every indication the aggregate would sail past the R100million mark by the end of yesterday. Stories of trade 40% down at Sydney’s Easter Sales (running concurrently), might have had most people quivering in their boots. But South Africans, with a history of dealing with adversity in so many different shapes and forms, can always be relied upon to exhibit their standard traits of courage and foresight, and their looking forward rather than behind them. That goes for a number of our overseas adherents too, who make the pilgrimage each year.

National Yearling Sale '09 Update

charles laird (heather morkel)Charles Laird at the TBA Sales Complex, Gosforth Park, Johannesburg
(Photo : Heather Morkel)


Look, let’s not forget, this is only a news flash reflecting just one night’s business, but on the face of things, a horse sale which is only 21,7% off last year’s record highs, given the state of the international economy, has to be a good result.

With international bourses down 40-50% and our own stock market in a 30% retreat, you’d have expected at least a similar outcome at the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale. But those who tuned in to Alec Hogg’s interview with Summerhill’s Mick Goss on Moneyweb’s business affairs programme last evening, would have been buoyed by the news of the number of “wannabe” buyers parading through the TBA’s sales complex at Gosforth Park, in the days leading into the sale, and his prediction that the “ponies” would outperform the market.

Like the three kings of biblical fame, they’ve come from the UK, the USA, Hong Kong, Australia, France and Singapore, to pay their respects to the cream of South African breeding, and from what we’ve heard, they’ve not been disappointed at what’s on show.

In the end, an average of R306 500 was a pleasing return, especially in the light of the fact there were only three millionaires in the evening to influence matters, and nothing approaching R2million.

Battle of the night, despite a top price of R1,5million, was the right to own the Spectrum half sister to Warm White Night and dual Gold Cup hero, Highland Night, in which the formidable combination of Markus Jooste and Charles Laird finally prevailed at R1,3million.

What is evident thus far, is that the gap between the progeny of the big three sires and those of the next tier, is no longer so glaringly apparent. Emerging sires Kahal, Muhtafal, National Emblem and Captain Al are growing in popularity with every sale, which the Summerhill team has to be delighted with the first showing of Cataloochees (2 fillies at R350k and R210k respectively), while Solskjaer is expected to kickoff in a big way Sunday.

Highlights of Summerhill’s evening were a R450k Kahal, brother to Gold Cup winner, Desert Links, (sold for the late Sheikh Maktoum’s Financial Director Stephen Gill, and Greig and Michelle Muir’s Muhtafal own sister to Alejate, at a cool R425k from the indomitable Michael Azzie.

Click here to listen to Alec Hogg’s interview with Mick Goss : Live Streaming of National Sales

The Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale begins today in an atmosphere of anticipation. The dramatic events on the global economic stage and a general slowing in the local economy has left many analyists wondering how the local Thoroughbred market might fare.

At the TBA Sales Complex there is a cautious optimism among vendors because, as Team Valor’s Barry Irwin says, “this is the best value thoroughbred sale in the world.” With 596 lots on offer, there are some mouth-watering prospects for the astute buyer. Bloodstock South Africa are holding thumbs that buyers are tempted by the progeny of many of South Africa’s, as well as the world’s, top stallions.

The Summerhill team has been working feverishly this past week meeting a steady stream of potential buyers. If you missed it… our draft this year includes progeny from a band of formidable international stallions : Johannesburg, Royal Academy, Oasis Dream and Haafhd. On debut at the sale are the progeny of Solskjaer (brother to champion stayer, Yeats, who was recently awarded a Timeform rating of 128), Cataloochee (the record setting son of Al Mufti), as well as the Summerhill stalwarts Kahal and Muhtafal (sire of Dubai World Cup star, Paris Perfect) and Malhub (Kingmambo’s best racing son at stud).

In an attempt to make the sale more “user friendly”, Bloodstock South Africa have discontinued the contentious green pages and select session. There will also be uninterrupted coverage on Tellytrack (DSTV Channel 232), and for the first time the sale will be streamed live online, starting tonight at 18:30 (South Africa time).

Just log onto to follow the action.