Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

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Kerryn Ackerman, HD Ackerman, Shirley Lavarack and Dave Lavarack

Kerryn Ackerman, HD Ackerman, Shirley Lavarack and Dave Lavarack


For adherents of the horse business, it’s probably appropriate, especially as we speak of ladies, to mention Shirley Lavarack (née Kruger) first in this despatch. By any measure, Shirley is the giant of the bookmaking fraternity, and to our knowledge, she was the first lady in history to be awarded a bookmaking license. Generous by nature, as most bookmakers are, Shirley is a larger-than-life character of our sport, and her extended success in the business is a tribute to the way she’s managed her life.

Her son-in-law is none less than the revered cricketer, H.D.Ackerman, at 35 still good enough to leave a proper impression on the youngsters that dominate the game these days. Of course, he comes from a lineage of cricketers, his father Hilton being one of the most gifted players this country’s produced, and between Shirley and her husband Dave, who is a bookmaker as well, HD and his lovely wife Kerryn, we’ve been graced with their presence at Hartford House last week, where they were enthralled by the tour of Summerhill and they raved about the best meals of their lives. Travelled as they are, that’s telling you something.

(Photos kindly supplied by Kerryn Ackerman)