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THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 3

giants castleThe Giant - Giant’s Castle
(Summerhill Stud)

BUILDING CAPACITY:
NOT WITHOUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT PLACE

So we came to the realization that we needed to flatten our management structure, and that experts in each division would be far more effective than subordinates answering to someone who himself was no expert beyond his own qualifications. Instead of bookkeepers, we put chartered accountants in charge of finance; instead of a part-timer we put a serious agriculturalist in charge of the farm; and the stallion manager was exactly that, a stallion man, dyed in the wool. The Broodmare Manager is a graduate of a veterinary school, the Building and Maintenance Manager was no longer a handyman; the trading store demanded a trader in the proper sense of the word. And so on.

The increments that flow from this approach are remarkable. Having an expert doing his job properly means others can concentrate on theirs: the need for duplication is cancelled and the added capacity is palpable. Not only does this mean the job gets done the way it’s intended, but it also means there is plenty of room for more horses, more stallions, for more feed, more foals, more customers, for more guests at Hartford, more insurance through that division, and so the wheel grinds on, and the team gets better by the day. We’ve been here thirty years now, but the real work started only fifteen ago. The word “only” is appropriate here, as fifteen years is a big chunk of any man’s working life, either way.

The other thing that flows from a job well done, is the satisfaction of having done it. I’ve always said I’m the luckiest man on earth, living where I live. I wake in the mornings and gaze out through double doors upon a world heritage site, at the centre of which is “The Giant”, the pivot around which our lives revolve. Like Gulliver after a well earned rest, he lies there prostrate across the length of the Drakensberg, the tip of his nose and the point of his chin signalling the apex of these great mountains.

I wake up next to one of the loveliest ladies in Mooi River, and I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years; I go to work with some of the finest people on this earth, and I get to work with the greatest creature the good Lord ever created. What a noble profession, made the nobler by the quality of those around us, and the excellence of what they deliver.

The next episode will follow next week.

trowel and bricksClick here to read :
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 1
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 2

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STRAIGHT EIGHT... eight foals in one evening!

bouncing foals at summerhill studSummerhill Foals
(Annet Becker)

Ever heard of this? Certainly not at Summerhill. Eight foals in one evening, between 5pm and 1am, eclipses our previous record of six, which we’ve known on four previous occasions.

And the sixteen on the weekend since Friday would constitute an entire season’s crop on some farms, so you can imagine our team will be pretty much “knackered” come December. The record came on Kerry Jack’s watch. A previous veteran of the Broodmare and Foalcare Manager’s portfolio herself, like her successor, Annet Becker, Kerry is a graduate of the Onderstepoort Veterinary School’s Vet Assistants course, so this was “all in a day’s work” for her, though she missed out on another big night at “Bellissimo’s” in the process.

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Advisors to the King

greig muir and barry watsonGreig Muir and Barry Watson in the grounds of the Royal Palace, Maseru
(Summerhill)

Greig Muir and Barry Watson are at risk of ‘believing’ that they are indeed esteemed members of the Monarchy of the Basotho Nation, having just returned from what they describe as an “unbelievable” visit to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.

Greig tells us that the reception and hospitality shown by their host, His Majesty King Letsie III, was truly ‘out of this world’. (In fact, if rumours are to be believed, one of our intrepid travelers had the distinct honour of bunking in the self same suite that Her Majesty The Queen once occupied.)

Barry writes as follows,”We stayed at the Royal Palace in Maseru, and what a Palace. Everything was embroidered with the Royal Coat Of Arms, even the tea-cups and saucers were sealed with the Royal insignia. And on our departure, when questioned by His Majesty as to whether we enjoyed our stay, the reply was quite simple, “We have been fed and kept like Kings.” His Majesty had a good laugh at that.

The purpose of our visit was to assist His Majesty in converting the waste product produced by his poultry operation, ie. chicken litter, into an active ‘input’, or fertilizer, for his cropping operation. What a way to reduce pollution! For many years now, poultry producers in South Africa have capatilised on the idea of using chicken litter as a supplement in their cropping fertilizer programmes.

Although the idea of taking a waste output from one enterprise for use as a source input for another is not new, with ever escalating agricultural input costs this concept is gaining increased momentum. Dairy farmers are also now factoring in the value of their milking parlour slurry when calculating pasture fertilizer requirements.

Here at Summerhill, we have been following these principles for some time now. For the last fifteen years it has been common practice to put our winter bedding onto our summer pastures. After achieving positive results with this practice, and feeling quite clever about ourselves, we initiated a composting operation. Now this operation has not only helped in reducing our fertilizer bill, but for this year, has in part helped in eliminating it altogether.

So can we do the same for the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho? Well, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but maybe we can assist in our own small way.”

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SUMMERHILL’S 4TH CHAMPIONSHIP : Another ground-breaker.

team summerhill stud equus awardsMick and Cheryl Goss with (from top) Greig Muir, Michael Booysen, Velaphi Mbanjwa,
Linda Norval, Catherine Hartley, Siyabonga Mlaba, John Motaung, Kerry Jack,
Heather Morkel, Doug Couperthwaite, Marlene Breed and Tarryn Liebenberg
(JC Photographics)

When Summerhill first aspired to the coveted title of South Africa’s Champion Breeder, it became only the sixth entity in history to do so.

For the first time, the most tightly-held trophy in racing found its home on the eastern side of the Drakensberg, and in a sense, the centre of the universe moved a little to the right, if you’re thinking of horses. On Thursday evening at Emperors Palace, Summerhill was acknowledged as the first awardee to receive four consecutive Championships in any category, since the inception of the Equus Awards.

But what really was significant, was the number of people that shared in its celebration. Summerhill is not about one man or one family’s ambitions. It has raised generations, educated children, staffed other farms and opened the world to many who might not’ve known life otherwise. It’s a monument to hard work, sacrifice and innovation.

Besides those that earn their crust at Summerhill, on the podium we shared the joys of the Premiership with at least 300 others, those who work alongside us, and those who partnered us in the horses that took us there. Without them, we’d still be running for place money.

To show how much it meant to all of us, we painted the City of Gold in a colour which matched this morning’s sunrise, just to let them know the Summerhill team had been visiting.

After four consecutive visits, we’re getting to know our way around Jo’burg too. It’s one helluva town, if our memories serve us properly.

Remember this though, if you want to join the party, it’s never too late.

Just dial the Champions.

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Launch of Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009

 

Today marks an historic day for Team Summerhill with the official launch this afternoon of the much anticipated, and eagerly awaited, 2008/2009 edition of the Summerhill Sires Brochure.

See our men; Albarahin, Cataloochee, Hobb Alwahtan, Kahal, Malhub, Muhtafal, Mullins Bay, Ravishing, Solskjaer, Stronghold and Way West as they’ve never been seen before, get an insight into the talented and dedicated individuals that make up Team Summerhill and see stunning images of arguably the most beautiful thoroughbred estate in Africa, which we are honoured and privileged to call home.

If you are already on our mailing list, we will be sending you your personal copy of this exquisite publication next week. If you’re not, we invite you to email us your details and we’ll ensure that you don’t miss out :  info@summerhill.co.za

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SUMMERHILL SIRES BROCHURE 2008/2009

 

The 2008/2009 edition of the Summerhill Sires Brochure is about to be released. Are you on the mailing list? If not, e-mail us now with your details : info@summerhill.co.za .

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Africa Calling

 

The calling of Africa
(Peter-Coyotos)
(Drakensberg Boys Choir)


KERRY JACK - After 8 years in the ‘metropolis’ of Mooiriver I felt a need to see a bit more of the world and headed off to England to find out if the grass is greener on the other side…

I spent the first 6 months working for Shadwell’s racing manager, Angus Gold and attended most of the Northern Hemisphere sales. The racing and breeding industry in England and America is enormous and the money involved is mind boggling. From July through to December there are back to back sales of either yearlings, horses in training, weanlings or mares with only a few days between each sale. Hundreds of horses are viewed each week and some of the sales run well into the night. By the end of the year exhaustion prevails and most could do without seeing any kind of four legged creature for a while! It was an invaluable experience and gave me new respect for the international bloodstock agent.

I then spent a few months riding for a pre-trainer in Lambourn preparing two year olds for the breeze up sales. As I had not sat on a horse for over a year it was quite an experience work riding through the English winter! The European Breeze-up sales are very similar to our Ready to Run sales here in South Africa. The preparation and presentation of the horses is similar and they too are starting to sit up and take note of this sale as a source of quality racehorses. Some top horses have graduated from these sales of late (including G1 Grand Criterium winner, Rio de la Plata) and, as a result, these sales have seen phenomenal growth over the last few years with Coolmore, Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan becoming more active in this market.

After a stint back at Summerhill and at the weanling sales in Australia I returned to Newmarket as veterinary assistant to the Baker, McVeigh and Clements practice. This relatively new branch of the practice has some of the top owners and trainers in England as its clients. They specialize in sales vetting and racehorse soundness and it was fantastic to spend some time with them and learn a little more about this side of the racing industry.

Although I had a wonderful time working and traveling abroad I missed the unbeatable climate, the diverse people, the stunning countryside and the ‘out of the box’ thinking that makes South Africa unique. I am very glad to be back and look forward to my position as Summerhill’s Bloodstock and Racing manager.

PS. You have to listen to the whole song.

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Welcome back Kerry Jack!

kerry_jack_annet_becker.jpg
Kerry Jack with Dollar Magic
(Annet Becker)


Everyone knows Kerry Jack, she’s been with us almost ten years now, where she’s been variously in charge of the Ready To Run horses at one time, and then as our Broodmare and Foalcare Manager, where she did a Herculean job managing the growth of that side of our business.

Kerry went abroad for two years to further her personal growth in the horse business, and we’re delighted to have her back on the team, where she will fulfill a range of functions, including managing our racing interests. As Summerhill’s Racing Representative, Kerry will liaise and consult with our trainers, and regularly attend the yards and race days, bringing a much needed personal contact to these crucial aspects of our business.

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Olivia Schaffer... a birthday tribute

olivia_schaffer
Olivia Schaffer
(Heather Morkel)

Hartford House marketing doyen, Olivia Schaffer, celebrates her birthday today. We’re sure that the celebrations will go long into the night in true ‘Oli style’.

Below is a message written by Chantal Naidoo and the Hartford Team.

“For as long as we’ve known you, you’ve been a special person with a genuinely good heart and a true sense of caring. It shows in the kind of friend you’ve been to us… and that’s why, when your birthday’s here, we want you to know how incredibly fortunate we feel to have a friend like you in our lives. Happy birthday Oli.”

 

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LINDA NORVAL - DNA of Champions

linda norvalLinda Norval

A legend of our own time manages the Summerhill Farm office. This one was here the day the gates opened, when the office was just a part of the passage in the old farmhouse. Yes, the same farmhouse built by the Deputy Prime Minister, old Colonel Richards, the one that housed the Royal Family.

This is the daughter-in-law of the legend that bred every great horse that ever deserved a mention among the legends that made Hartford the greatest thoroughbred nursery of its era. She is the same legend that last season single-handedly sold something like 20% of all the stallion seasons traded in South Africa. She’s the voice behind the telephone the world has come to know as Linda Norval. Celebrity, champion, institution.

Like the rest of the team, she’s come to appreciate the enormity of a third Breeder’s Championship. She didn’t just appreciate it though: she’s one of those that made it. With all it’s thrills and spills, she’s lived it, and like the rest of us, she’ll never forget it.

But she’s also one of those that’s never forgotten where we all come from. There are no short cuts to the top. Blood, sweat and sacrifice are the DNA of champions, and the day after the celebrations end, she’ll be back at work. Ahead of time, as usual.

Extract from Summerhill Sires Brochure 2007/2008

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Son of GALILEO for Emperor's Palace National Yearling Sale 2008... our Grooms' choices continued

It may be the weekend, but our Grooms are working. Here are more of their Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales choices : 

Thembinkosi NxumaloThembinkosi Nxumalo A fellow who obviously understands his international breeding is Thembinkosi Nxumalo (otherwise known as “T.K”). A long-serving member of our Ready To Run riders. He’s gone for the son of Europe’s number one young stallion, Galileo, Lot 364 Sgidi (which is a “million” in Zulu), whom the TBA’s selection panel found good enough as a physical specimen to award him 9 points (out of a possible 10). That’s as close to perfection as they come, and this colt, whose sire stands for something approaching $200 000 (+- R2.4 million) is out of a daughter of last season’s Champion Australian sire, Flying Spur. There’s an Australian Oaks and Guineas winner in this pedigree, and this chap, who walks just like the Galileo’s we know, will have a stream of admirers once they’ve had a chance to look at him. Well done T.K. for picking this one up.

His choice of the fillies was replicated earlier by Patrick Molefe (Lot 98 Zwelonke), so while we did say she wasn’t the “obvious” pick on paper, she’s obviously caught the eye of those who work with her. Finally, we get to Zukile Mangaliso, who was entirely original in both is picks. He went for Mongameli (Lot 129), an outstanding son of Royal Academy, who has unfortunately had to be withdrawn at the last moment on account of a spiked temperature which rendered him unable to travel. Don’t despair, this beautifully bred animal from one of Australia’s top families will be available at the Ready To Run, so all is not lost.

On the distaff side, Zukile has shown his discernment in choosing Hypatia (Lot 286) a stunning daughter of the present leader of a powerful group of Freshman sires, Labeeb, out of the Stakes winning mare Winning Glory. That makes her a sister to last year’s East Cape Horse Of the Year, Hear The Drums (now a fifteen-time winner of not far short of a R1 million) from the distinguished international family of multiple Group One winner and sire, Procida (representing one of the world’s great farms, the Niarchos family’s Haras Fresnaye le Buffard, once the nursery of the most famous of all French breeders, Marcel Boussac). You’d not be surprised to see another top horse from this family, and there is one in the form of Slickly, the Champion Older Miler in Europe in 2001. Zukile knew nothing of this pedigree when he made his pick, but he certainly identified an individual who could stand her ground in any beauty contest anywhere.

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NATIONAL YEARLING SALE - Traditional Summerhill Breeding... the Grooms' choices continue

Patrick MolefePatrick MolefeBy the time this report is posted, we’ll be just a week away from the commencement of the Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales, and there’s increasing activity at the TBA’s sales complex in the vicinity of the old Gosforth Park racecourse. Another third generation member of our farm staff, Patrick Molefe, has put his finger on Lot 155, Mbovana (“the Red One”) who represents a classic Summerhill breeding, insofar as the first three generations of his pedigree comprise stallions that’ve stood their careers at Summerhill, while his third dam, Coconut Ice, was a stalwart of the foundation stock of the Goss family when they first came to Summerhill.

In fact, Coconut Ice was the very first horse to be boarded at Summerhill under its previous proprietors and one of her best descendants, Real Red, is the dam of this particular colt by Malhub, one of the world’s top sprinters of 2002. Malhub’s gotten off to an exceptional start with his first crop in South Africa, and is bound to be rivalling his erstwhile stallion barn stablemate, Labeeb, when the chequered flag comes out at the end of the season for Freshman Sires’ honours. This is a sturdy fellow with a big walk, who probably resembles more his maternal grandsire, Muhtafal, than he does his own sire.

Spamandla MthethwaSpamandla Mthethwa Patrick’s choice of the fillies is Lot 98 (Zwelonke) a good looking filly from the family of recent Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Cup victor, Umngazi, by the sire of this past weekend’s run-away winner of the East Cape Nursery, Scripture (by Requiem). Quizzed about his choice, Patrick volunteered that this family has speed to burn, and he pointed to the recent form of the half-brother Fox Hunt, who’s picked up two more since the catalogue was printed for world-class judge, Robin Bruss. This is a slightly off-beat choice, as Zwelonkhe is not the obvious one, but she’ll make excellent value to a discerning buyer who is not looking to break the sale’s record in order to acquire a quality horse.

It’s amazing how many of our staff come from old, established families, and Spamandla Mthethwa is no exception. His grandmother has a barn named after her on this farm for the example she set for the many people that work here, and he’s a member of our farrier team. In his choices though, he was not entirely original, as he followed four others in selecting Lot 32 (Nhlavini’s brother) Keep Striding, and six grooms in all going for Nontanda, Lostintranslation’s half sister by Al Mufti (Lot 22).

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EMPEROR'S PALACE NATIONAL SALES - Hands Up! Our Grooms' choices continued...

Lungisani HadebeLungisani HadebeAnother colt that’s proven popular is Lot 332, Buhlebami (which means “the Nice Things About Me”), an Australian-bred son of one of America’s better stallions right now, Tale Of The Cat. This one’s got an exceptional page, including some of the best horses to emerge from Northern Dancer’s own home, Windfield’s Stud in Canada, including the European Champion, Storm Bird (sire of America’s greatest living stallion, Storm Cat), Champion French sire, Green Tune, and the Champion European filly, Pas de Response. Right up in the pedigree though is AP Warrior, a leading entry for this year’s Dubai World Cup, and so this fellow has to be on any serious connoisseur’s list. He’s the choice of Kwanele Skhosana and Lungisani Hadebe.

Kwanele’s pick of the fillies is Khebraat’s own sister, Amanah (Lot 508), a lovely scopey individual with plenty of class and a couple of serious racehorses on her page. This is pure Shadwell Stud breeding (the bastion of Sheikh Hamdan’s international breeding operations), and lets not forget, Khebraat beat no less than Gomma Gomma hero, Pick Six and Guineas place-getter, Surfin’ USA, in last year’s edition of the KZN Breeders 1600, before his untimely death. Khebraat was never out of the money in his all-too-brief career, and Kwanele might just have something here.

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NHLAVINI'S brother gets into the fray : our Grooms choices continued

Mali ZumaMali Zuma The countdown to the Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales is well under way, and there’s a stream of people moving through the TBA complex in Germiston as this report is posted, sifting out the ones they like. Tarryn Liebenberg has taken the trouble to speak to our grooming staff on a daily basis, and this is her report on one of our longest serving groom’s picks. He is Mali (Money) Zuma, whose family are renowned among visitors to Summerhill, as the team who’ve staffed our stallion barn for most of the past two decades. Mali’s been around almost that long, and there is very little that he doesn’t know about what’s happening at Summerhill and its horses.

For what’s it worth, his pick of the colts is Nhlavini’s own brother (Lot 32) Keep Striding, who is a scopey, athletic sort with the walk of a tiger on him. Markus Jooste has raced this family with great distinction, as he also had Nhlavini’s other brother, Optima Maximo, winner of four in a row and five all told, and was just touched off in the Java Handicap. Of course, Nhlavini has the record for the most number of podium finishes a the Equus Racing Awards, where he made the finals in six consecutive years, and took home the bounty as Champion Sprinter on no fewer than three occasions (2001, 2005 & 2006). Mali knows what he’s talking about, and perhaps his name (literally interpreted, “money”) was appropriately given!

Robert MbheleRobert Mbhele Another old-timer, and a fourth generation member of the staff, is Robert Mbhele, who joins Mali in his choice of Keep Striding, and as readers will have noted, was one of the six grooms that went for Nontanda (Lot 22) the half-sister to early SA Guineas favourite, Lostintranslation, from the family of J&B Met hero, Angus and Golden Slipper heroine, Dignify.

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THE EMPEROR'S PALACE NATIONAL YEARLING SALES : The Grooms make their Crosses

Tarryn LiebenbergTarryn LiebenbergLast week, we promised to reveal all. This meant we’d be leaking news on the “drip” day-by-day, of our groom’s individual choices. Tarryn Liebenberg, who heads up the yearling sales team, tells us it was an extremely difficult task, particularly as there is so little between the top horse in the draft and the rest. What you get from the Champion Breeders in 2008 is the pick of one of the best vintages we’ve known, and by the “pick” we mean everything that was advanced enough to go. There are obviously numerous backward or immature types of National Sales calibre which we’ve kept behind, but for the rest, these are the “ones”.

Ben MbheleBen Mbhele Ben Mbhele , who’s been with us more than 20 years and whose grandfather was here in 1939 when the Ellises acquired Hartford, has gone for Khetani (which means “Take Your pick or Choice”), a scopey athletic colt and a beautiful moving individual by current leading Freshman sire, Labeeb out of Choice, a Stakes winner from one of our top families. He is joined in that selection by Prince Mdunjane, whom readers will remember is an outstanding rider in our Ready To Ride team, as well Thabani Nzimande, a relative newcomer, but a natural talent in his own right.

Ben’s pick of the fillies, it seems, is a relatively obvious one, being the Al Mufti half-sister (Nontanda) to one of the favourites for the forthcoming SA Guineas, Lostintranslation. This one’s out of an own sister to J&B Metropolitan (Gr.1) winner, Angus, and to Dignify, winner of the Golden Slipper (Gr.1), and he’s joined in this particular selection by Lungisani Hadebe, Mali Zuma, Mandla Vidima, Robert Mbhele, Spamandla Mthethwa and Thabani Nzimande (again). Amazingly, for a draft with so many outstanding fillies, almost half our grooms have gone for Nontanda, but they’re probably more pedigree “snobs” than anything else, because she’s Lot 22, and is an entry in the “green pages”. While she’s obviously an outstanding individual, there are several others in the draft that match her.

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BARRETTS (USA) SELECT 2-YEAR-OLD SALE

Barretts%20Logo%20LR.jpgThis week’s Barretts (USA) Ready to Run auction yielded some big results. Our man, John Motaung, is in attendance, and he’s in awe of the cash that’s changing hands.

 TOP FILLIES
Sire
                         Price ($)   Purchased by

Silver Deputy        800,000   Stonestreet Stables
($210,000 yrl)

Unbridled’s Song 475,000    Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC

Gulch                     450,000    Southern Equine Stables LLC
($52,000 yrl)

TOP COLTS
Sir Cherokee         650,000   Stonestreet Stables
($150,000 yrl)

Seattle Fitz (Arg) 600,000   Mike Ryan, agent
($22,000 yrl)

Cherokee Run      425,000    Larry Richardson, agent
($375,000 yrl)

Renowned Bloodstock agent Buzz Chance had this to say: “I don’t know what the buyback rate is, but it seems like people are here to buy horses. The prices are fair. I think it’s a good sale – but, of course, I’ve never been to a sale I didn’t like.”

 Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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MELBOURNE PREMIER YEARLING SALE : Recession? What Recession?

melbourne If you’re sitting in Melbourne, Australia, right now, you’d be feeling psychologically battered by all the media hype about the “poorest corporate reporting period in a decade,” the “sub-prime” fallout, the impact on manufacturing, of the ever-strengthening “Oz Dollar” against its American counterpart etc.

Yet it seems at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale yesterday and today, that nobody is listening, not in the horse business anyway, where prices were up just short of 40%. That makes shopping for South Africans all the more difficult, especially when our team’s efforts are aimed at the Premium end in an effort to bolster the quality offerings at November’s Ready To Run extravaganza.

Nonetheless, patience rewards those that wait, and after a complete blank on day one, the Summerhill trio (the boss and two ‘judges’ in Annet Becker and Kerry Jack) had unearthed two jewels, a Galileo filly from the immediate family ofSummerhill Sire, Way West, and a smacking son of reigning Australian Champion Sire, Flying Spur.

For Ready To Run watchers, keep a lookout here. This show’s not closed yet.

Posted by Mick Goss 

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DERRINSTOWN STUD : Summerhill men settling in well

derrinstown stud This morning we received a note from Elliot Bhengu and Michael Ndlovu who are working at Sheikh Hamdan’s Derrinstown Stud in County Kildare, Ireland. Although flying can be tedious, especially over such long distances, our intrepid colleagues report that they enjoyed the flights very much. They have settled in well, are enjoying the people and are impressed with the beauty of the farm itself. In Elliot’s words “we are learning a lot to bring back home”.

This valuable exposure to life and work in foreign climes will set them in good stead for the future. They are due back in South Africa at the beginning of June, and we look forward to hearing more about their experiences.

Posted by Marlene Breed

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