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Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum


summerhill stallion day
summerhill stallion day

Summerhill Stallion Day 2009

(Photo : Summerhill Stud) 

Despite the turmoil of our financial times, representatives of thirteen different nations pitched up at what has become known as “racing’s greatest day out”. While our sport is often judged as a self-indulgence and the domain of the elite, it remains the bastion of the most generous-spirited people in the country, and at Sunday’s exhibition of the Summerhill sires, South Africa’s people and a good number from abroad, were seen at their best.

The purpose of the day is obviously the showcasing of the Summerhill stallions, and in particular their new arrivals, Admire Main and A.P.Arrow, yet there are so many dimensions to this fascinating day, they deserve their own column. Summerhill’s traditional dancers, who’ve been ranked second and third in the world at international competitions in Tokyo and Hong Kong, have long been favourites of the day, but this year, apart from the music, the magicians, the buskers and the fine wines of Waterford, there was a refreshing element in the display of Ardmore Ceramics, the brainchild of renowned equestrian, Fee Berning.

Visit the best shops in London, New York, Berlin, Paris and Sydney, and you will find displayed some of the most collectible art in the world, creations of local Zulus whose talents have now reached the point where individual pieces are making R100,000 and beyond.

The service auction was a raging success, despite the apparently difficult times we live in, and raised close to R400,000. It was an astonishing display of charity on the part of those who attended, and South Africans can pat themselves on the back today in the knowledge that whatever the constraints, fundamental to our character is the virtue of generosity.

As reassuring as any recent developments in racing, was the announcement by Chris Kennard, Financial Director to the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan., of the Maktoum family’s commitment of R4,000,000 towards the Al Maktoum School Of Management Excellence. The earthworks and infrastructure are already in place, and construction begins in earnest in August. The first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, this institution bodes a unique opportunity for young aspirants wanting to make a career of the breeding or racing industries.

( click School Of Excellence)

At times like these, we need to remember we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.

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the Summerhill Stallion Day

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chris kennard at summerhill creche
chris kennard at summerhill creche

Chris Kennard enjoys a visit to the Summerhill Creche

(Photo : Leigh Willson)

“Chris Kennard and the Al Maktoum School of Excellence”

There is something about what used to be known as the Durban July (now the Vodacom July) that draws people from all over the world. Across the road at the Shark Tank, (King’s Park) the Sharks attract 150,000 people to the braais and parties on the outfields of the stadium following the big Shark’s matches, yet nothing, but nothing, can match the after-party at the Durban Turf Club’s circuit on the first Saturday evening of July.

At South Africa’s number one stud farm, the influx has started, and of course the pilgrimage reaches a state of earnestness on Sunday. Early arrivals include Sheikh Hamdan’s financial director, Chris Kennard, whose 21 years in that capacity with Shadwell has presided over a period of unprecedented success on the racecourse, no less epitomised this year by what is arguably the best filly in the world, Ghanaati. Chris is here, among other things, to stoke up the fires at the stallion parade on Sunday, and of course, to provide his guidance and advice on the Al Maktoum School Of Excellence.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's four-timer

Coronation Stakes (Gr1)
(Photo : Daily Mail)


There have been some memorable moments in the racing exploits of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s horses since he first dabbled in the sport thirty years ago, including a Guineas and Derby double for the phenomenal NASHWAN. Nonetheless, His Highness would happily acknowledge that his four-timer at Royal Ascot this past week takes a bit of beating, particularly the spectacular victory of GHANAATI in Friday’s Coronation Stakes (Gr1), which removed any doubt who the best three-year-old filly is in Europe right now. Incidentally, GHANAATI is out of a Mr Prospector half sister to NASHWAN, both of whom are the progeny of the glorious mare, HEIGHT OF FASHION.

Sheikh Hamdan’s involvement with Summerhill started two decades ago, with the arrival of RAMI and half a dozen mares, and is spearheaded today by his two highly successful stallions, KAHAL and MUHTAFAL.

ROBERT CLARK : Rembrandt's Acknowledgement

robert clark thoroughbred artistRobert Clark
Thoroughbred Artist

The press release on A.P.Arrow’s purchase for South Africa, has provoked a flood of congratulations on a scale we’ve not seen before. One of his most avid supporters is a man known in American art circles as the “Rembrandt of Racing”, Robert Clark. He took the trouble to write to us.

“I have been a big fan of AP Arrow for quite some time. I painted Azeri for Michael and Lenora Paulson a few years back and became friends with them. I was painting live at Gulfstream Park when AP Arrow won the Skip Away Stakes a couple years ago and joined the Paulson’s in the winner’s circle for the win photo, which I have hanging on my studio wall. So, as you can see I’m not just a casual fan of the sport or of this particular horse; I followed all of his races and know very well that while he never picked up his Grade 1 victory, he ran against the toughest competition year after year. He’s run with several horses that will be in the Hall of Fame some day. Add to that his pedigree that is impeccable and you have just acquired what will probably be a tremendous stallion. As sad as I was to see him leave the United States, after having a chance to study your farm’s web site for the last few weeks I am extremely impressed and realize that the best possible thing that could happen to AP Arrow is for him to have found his way to Summerhill.

I’ve been told by Shadwell manager, Rick Nichols, that Sheikh Hamdam was amazed by his painting of Invasor. I’d love to create an exciting painting of AP Arrow in action and/or a regal conformation painting set there at his new home”.

 robert clark website linkrobert clark invasor link


visit                    view Robert Clark’s painting of Invasor


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.