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National Yearling Sale 2009

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NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED

wicked

We’re scarcely out of the mire of the National Sales, and the Summerhill team are beavering away at the next round of responsibilities. On the agri front, this is “clean up” time, with road repairs, tree planting, dam building etc, going ahead at a furious pace under the tutelage of Barry Watson.

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A few National Sales comments...

pen and handwriting

BARRY IRWIN : TEAM VALOR INTERNATIONAL

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.

 

 

Peter DoylePETER DOYLE : ARGUABLY IRELAND’S TOP BLOODSTOCK AGENT

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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LINDSAY PARK STUD : The Extension of a Legend

sam hayes national yearling sale (heather morkel)Sam Hayes
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

One of the associations in which we take great delight, is with the legendary Lindsay Park Stud in the vicinity of the famed Barossa wine growing region of South Australia. Lindsay Park was founded by one of Australia’s training icons, the late Colin Hayes, father of Australia’s leading trainer of the present era, David Hayes and grandfather to Sam Hayes, who has taken over the stud breeding operations at the property.

Lindsay Park has many things in common with Summerhill, not the least of which is its isolation from the mainstream of Australian breeding, the Hunter Valley. Like us in KwaZulu Natal, South Australia is off the beaten track in breeding terms, yet it continues to produce a stream of top quality horses, despite its removal from the location of the nations top stallions. Only recently, it has produced the likes of the celebrated Grade One winners, Niconero and Nicconi (winner of last weekend’s Galaxy Stakes Gr1). From all accounts, Sam enjoyed his trip to us last week. With his permission we quote from his note penned on the way home.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Dear Mick and Cheryl,

I am currently flying from Johannesburg to Sydney and reflecting on the last ten days.

I would like to sincerely thank you both for your wonderful hospitality in Johannesburg, at Hartford House and at Summerhill Stud.

The South African experience in general was everything that I had hoped it would be (and more!). The results of the National Sale were encouragingly strong in the face of a decline in world confidence. I was most impressed by the sale ground facilities and permanent hospitality areas within each barn (not to mention Linda’s chicken rolls… one of many highlights!)

The trip from Johannesburg to Natal with the stopover at Clarens provided for a great opportunity to view the South African landscape. Thanks for letting me travel with you.

Hartford House is a very special place. It is a credit to your imagination and sense of style Cheryl. The decor, delicious food, excellent service, warm hospitality and Zulu dancing will not be forgotten. It is a world class venue. Congratulations!

Summerhill Stud was quite inspirational. Seeing the Summerhill Stud graduates winning Group races at Turffontien on Saturday and then witnessing the top filly and colt being sold from your draft was only the beginning! Being able to observe your farm and your team at the top of its game was a real treat.

It was motivational to see first hand what can be achieved with hard work, optimism and persistence. The vision that your team has for Summerhill has largely been realized and to see a business modeled so meticulously on the template of one’s vision was most inspiring.

The things that stand out in my mind are the proactive initiatives to train and educate your staff (not only with work skills but general life skills as well). The genuine focus on clients. The effective diversification of your business through insurance and feed divisions and the development of organic pasture management practices.

But what I loved most was the burning desire you all had to become South Africa’s leading breeders, backed by a steadfast belief that you would one day get there despite not having the monetary backing or the perceived geographical advantage of your rivals. You are reaping the benefits of doing what you love. That really does inspire me.

Naturally I found so many parallels with what we are hoping to achieve at Lindsay Park Stud. I can’t wait to get back to work. I know, with time, we can do the same.

Thanks also for giving me an insight into how you run your monthly accounts. Those templates will be very useful in helping us to re-design our financial reporting.

The whole experience was an absolute privilege that I sincerely appreciate. Not even watching the Australians loosing the one dayer in Cape Town was going to dampen my spirits!

Please pass on my thanks to all the team, especially Heather, Linda, Kerry, Annet, Tarryn and Marlene.

Long may your success continue!

Warm Regards
Sam Hayes

Summerhill Stud’s Australian Ambassador!

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.

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GRAHAM BECK SECURES TOP KAHAL

graham beck brut“We toasted the town, the team, and our buyers with a couple bottles of Graham Beck Brut…”

“BIG SALE DIARIES” - Part 2

Uncle Tommy (Kahal out of Cousin Linda, half brother to Rebel King) did us proud yesterday, topping the first and second sessions with a heart-stopping, whopping R2.4million bid by Mike Bass for Graham Beck. Underbidders Mike de Kock and Markus Jooste carried him there, and our partners Mike and Marty Meredith, Mick and the team were ecstatic. In a fairly solid session we also sold, among others, Matara Garden (Solskjaer out of Garden Verse, half sister to Imbongi and Spring Garland) for R1.5million to Barry Irwin’s Team Valor.

We toasted the town, the team, and our buyers with a couple bottles of Graham Beck Brut – a fitting finish to yet another of those grand days at the office!

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National Yearling Sales : What a Sunday!

“BIG SALE DIARIES - Part 1”

As big days go, it doesn’t get much better, especially if you’re in the Summerhill corner. Two Group winners, three Group seconds, and an impressive juvenile in the second all added up to something approaching R600,000 accumulative earnings for the day. It could’ve been better though, as one wag commented, “If only the wind had been blowing our way, and the three seconds had made it home!”

On a day in which fortunes might have been made, if our Australian, French and English friends had kept the faith (but typically deserted us for those raised in “greener” pastures) there were a number of notable performances:

o LABEEB finally came home, notching up a consecutive treble including a double in the Derby and Oaks Trials for the one man who put his hand up very early on, Ormonde Ferraris.

o Charles Laird and Markus Jooste achieved an historic trifecta with a one-two-three in the R1million Horse Chestnut Stakes, only to notch up another graded stakes victory in the next event with Rebel King.

o If your business is selling horses, having a graded stakes winner related to one of your entries on the eve of its appearance in the ring hopefully contributes a little extra to the bottom line, so Rebel King’s swoop in the dying stages of the Senor Santa not only took him another step closer to Champion Sprinter honours, but also added value to his yearling brother Uncle Tommy, who became the sales-topper (first and second sessions) yesterday afternoon – more on that later.

o That’s not the lot though, as Lot 305, Imbongi’s half sister by Solskjaer saw her page significantly lifted this weekend with juvenile Mahubo’s Grade 3 third on debut, and Spring Garland’s magnificent defeat of the nation’s second-rated female runner, She’s On Fire in the time-honoured Gerald Rosenberg Stakes G2.

o Not to be outdone, the evening meeting at Greyville kicked off with a trifecta straightliner for KAHAL, who notched up three in rapid succession.

Another great day at the office….

KAHAL SCORES HAT TRICK

Kahal
(Summerhill Stud)

There are three lights on a stoplight, you get three strikes in baseball, the genie grants you three wishes and last but not least there are three Musketeers, and this past Saturday, Kahal had three Musketeers of his own.

Saturday’s racing at Greyville saw the first three races won by none other than three sons of Kahal.

In the first race over 1300 metres, the Adam Kethro-trained and owned East Coast Gold, bred by Greenhill Farm, cruised in to win from Winters Edge and Jacob Davies. A half brother (Lot 140) to East Coast Gold, by another Summerhill stallion – Muhtafal, sold for R600 000 at the National Yearling Sales on Sunday.

The second race saw Roofing across the finish line first, this time a Kahal colt bred by Connington Stud. And then to complete this hat trick, Phi, a Kahal colt bred by our other neighbouring farm, Bush Hill Stud, beat Sheik’s Fantasy and Precedent in the third race over 1900m.

No wonder that Kahal’s sales average for 17 lots sold at the National Sales so far, is R372 000, and that the current sales topper is none other than a half brother by Kahal, to Group 1 winner Rebel King. So you better wake up if you don’t want to lose out, as there are only 6 Kahal’s left to sell on the last day of the National Yearling Sales. Two of the last six being outstanding colts bred by Summerhill - Lots 432 and 567.

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

National Yearling Sale '09 Update

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

“AS THINGS STAND, THIS WAS A GOOD RESULT”

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

www.tba.co.za : 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 www.tba.co.za to follow the action.

KAHAL : THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY

KAHAL
“NO LONGER JUST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR”

Mike de Kock is famous for saying some years ago, if Kahal got the opportunities Fort Wood and Western Winter did, he’d be right up there, contesting the championship.

While those running for Kahal right now were conceived at stud fees south of R15000, they’ve proven Mike the prophet we know him to be. Right now, Kahal ranks in the top four stallions in the land, with two winners of R1million plus races already this season.

What gives us goose bumps though, is that his best days are still in front of him. The Kahals going to the sales this year are the first accruing from his new-found fame. In our view, they’re as far ahead of their predecessors as his stud fee is beyond R15000 these days.

SOLSKJAER : Named for IMMORTALITY

SOLSKJAER
“…WITH THE TALENT TO MATCH IT.”

It’s always gratifying to know the judges like your horse.

In Solskjaer’s case, there’s no doubt that Coolmore are as good as judges get. He was remarkable as a juvenile, they named him for immortality. The best trainer in Europe then proclaimed him “an amazing horse; we thought he was a superstar..”.

So when the judges labelled his yearlings recently, it was no more than the fulfilment of a prophecy. We shouldn’t be surprised though. He’s a son of Danehill, rated in the top half percent of racehorses world-wide.

ALL HE’S DOING, IS WHAT MOST GOOD DANEHILLS DO.

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

MALHUB : The Smouldering Gun

MALHUB
“KEEP YOUR HEADS DOWN”

Let’s face it, we expected more from Malhub’s first crop. After all, he was the star son of the stallion of the moment, and Timeform rated him better than his own illustrious father.

But never mind, we’ve been there before. Those with memories, will recall that Northern Guest got off to an even slower start, but once they got going, he was unassailable.

The rumblings in January about Malhub’s second crop, are quietly developing into a roar. By mid year, he might well have joined his old foes, Johannesburg and Invincible Spirit, as a sire of note.

You’d have expected it of him though, wouldn’t you? He’s a son of Kingmambo, and with a record of first or second in four Group Ones, never beaten more than half a length, you’d be looking for an “explosion”.

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

No need to go via Kentucky to get to JOHANNESBURG

JOHANNESBURG
“POP IN AT BLOCK A”

The Golden City of the world is Johannesburg. The Golden Boy among world-class juveniles of his year, was also Johannesburg. Supreme in Europe in five unblemished starts, Johannesburg gave the Americans a galloping lesson at the Breeders Cup.

Naturally, expectations were high when he went to stud. Johannesburg has not let them down.

With eight Graded Stakes winners on both sides of the Atlantic in the past twelve months, he ranks with the best young stallions in the world.

Meeting expectations, delivering the goods. That’s the Johannesburg we’ve all come to know, the Golden Boy on his new stage.

P.S. Pop in at Block A: we’ll save you travelling half way around the world. And we’ll show you a few other imported gems. Royal Academy, Oasis Dream, Haafhd.

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

CATALOOCHEE : Now this is a story worth telling...


CATALOOCHEE

“Like him, his progeny can handle their own corner”

The story of a loner, who toughed it out against the odds, who shouldered his 530kgs through the sound and pain barriers. A horse who, in the very best of races, never let a horse lead him once he had hit the front. Even for a stride. He ran the fastest 1000m in history, doing it the hard way, and came back for more, and did it again at 1200m against the best. A real champion, a fighter, a winner.

CATALOOCHEE: Out there on his own. Metaphorically. Literally.

summerhill stud south africa

For more information please visit :
www.summerhill.co.za

MUHTAFAL : The General Has Spoken

MUHTAFAL
“WHEN THE GENERAL SPEAKS, THE TROOPS STAND TO ATTENTION”

We’ve always said, if we were going to war, Muhtafal would be our man, and no statement could be more emphatic than his leadership, once again, of this season’s Stakes winners log.

As dependable a “getter” of Black type runners as any stallion in the nation, Muhtafal’s enduring occupation of the top echelons of our sires’ ranks, is a tribute to a horse who’s only just getting the opportunities he deserves.

Bottom line: Get in before they get out of reach.

 

LEADING SIRES BY STAKES WINNERS 2009

MUHTAFAL 4*
NATIONAL EMBLEM 4*
WESTERN WINTER 4
STRIKE SMARTLY 4
JET MASTER 3
AL MUFTI 3
JALLAD 3

Figures : Sporting Post 22 March 2009
* Made it at Summerhill


View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

The Toyota of South African Racing

“Everything keeps going right…”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of our involvement in the breeding business. In all that time, the need to provide the best bang for a man’s buck, has never been greater.

 

It’s a matter of pride to us that we’ve developed a reputation for the production of stock with the attributes South Africans admire most: excellent quality, unparalleled dependability, and outstanding value.

 

In a manner of speaking, you’d be forgiven for labeling the Summerhill racehorse the Toyota of South African racing. At the end of the day, they’re the only horses to have delivered up four consecutive Breeders Championships in the past thirty years. And champions are what this game’s about.

 

As they used to say in the classics, (and occasionally in that famous jingle), for us, everything keeps going right .

 

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

Summerhill Yearlings depart for the National Sales

summerhill yearling and groom (michael nefdt)A private farewell between Yearling and Groom
(Summerhill Stud)

“…not so much fun and games anymore.”

Time was, when our horses departed for the National Sales, the ladies and children of the farm would stand at the loading ramps to serenading the horses on their way to racing glory. The tradition was born partly of superstition, and partly to soothe the nerves of young, unhabituated “hot-bloods” as they alighted for the first time onto a horse-drawn trailer. In those days, before man intervened to the degree we do now, the horses were pretty much “rough and ready”, and they’d have tested every sinew and every patience on their daily walks for several weeks before they left.

Then we’d ask them to get on a trailer and know the movement of a vehicle under their feet for the first time, something some of their temperaments couldn’t handle.

Man’s intervention has once again played a role in disrespecting the pleasantries of ritual, this time in the form of a headmaster who no longer believes it necessary for the children to miss a morning of school, whilst the horses load. He’s witnessed the process himself, and seen how well behaved they are these days, and he doesn’t grab the line that they wouldn’t run as quickly, if we discarded the serenade.

In the old days, not only was the loading attended by a choral accompaniment, but the farm staff would dance the horses at single digit kilometres per hour to the T-junction at the top of the farm, whilst the “cargo” came to terms with the beast beneath them. Then off they’d go, carrying the aspirations and dreams of a community.

These days, it’s more matter-of-fact, and we console ourselves that these horses have been bought up in the hands of professionals, that they’re ready for every eventuality, and their next assignment is to keep the numbers ticking on the Breeders’ log. Thursday was the day, and as good a draft as any to leave for the National Sales, lined up at the old loading ramps at the back doors of the maker of Africa’s finest horsefeeds. No doubt, there’ll be those in Joburg awaiting their arrival, and soon they’ll be decamping for new destinations, some of them for the shores of new lands.

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009