Summerhill Sires Film 2013 / 2014
Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
I have never really been far away from the world of racehorses. In that sense, I am a fully-paid-up member of the "secret society". The racing fraternity gathers each morning on stud farms and at training tracks when normal people are still in bed: it’s a fellowship with its own language and humour, and an unwritten code of rules. Dinner table conversations at home were dominated by horses, and photographs of the noble beasts looked down upon the family from the walls. From the back door of the farmhouse, you smelt soiled straw and fresh hay.
Les Carlyon reminded me that racehorse owners are different. Most of them have an engineer's sense of precision, a mind that gravitates towards the objective and the rational. They like to bring order and reason to complex matters. Horse people are seldom like that. We can be rational and pragmatic too, but we tend to rank those things behind matters of the heart. To be good in our game, you need a touch of the mystic and the artist, which is right enough, because we are in the racehorse business, and racing is seldom scientific. Thoroughbreds do things machines can’t; they're crafted, not manufactured. If you witnessed Brian Joffe’s embrace of Mike de Kock following the Shea Shea massacre in Dubai, you’ll know what I mean. Big deals make big men excited, but racehorses turn big men into little boys.
Watch the video above for a taste of Summerhill Stud.