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.

Filtering by Tag: Durban July


Private Race Meeting at Hartford
(Photos : Leigh Willson)


Hartford did what no other hotel in the world can do on the weekend. It celebrated a personal milestone by staging a private race meeting with trainers, jockeys, bookmakers, a commentator, and proper racehorses on Summerhill's private racecourse, which in the Ellis era, sent forth the winners of every major race on the South Africa racing calendar. That we can do it, lends credence to our claim as "the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm in the world!"

Among the attendees were several of South Africa's leading business, financial and political figures, and the racehorses included two multi-millionaires, the country's winningmost racehorse of all time, a Group-placed colt and Stakes-winning filly, all of which have retired to our paddocks, and for one reason or another are no longer active as racehorses or at stud.

While we've staged these events for some of the big names in the corporate world in the past, this was a "first" for a private party, and you should've been here in the past couple of weeks to witness the frenetic activity that went into "prepping" the horses for their big day. You'd have sworn it was the Durban July, and when the volume went up as the horses entered the last furlong, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were attending the Melbourne Cup!

SUMMERHILL STALLION DAY : A True Midlands Festival

The Guard of Honour / Summerhill Stud (p)

The Guard of Honour / Summerhill Stud (p)

The Summerhill Stallion Day was a rousing success, with visitors from across the whole racing world. Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, France, Turkey, Germany, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the length and breadth of South Africa. In the end, we fed more than 700 people, and we’re almost frightened to look at the booze bill this morning!

The new horses, Mullins Bay, Stronghold and Ravishing were at their brilliant best, and the business undertaken by our stallions booking department through the afternoon was a testament to their class. We know the times are supposedly tough across the economic spectra of the world, but you’d be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about if you’d attended the auction. South Africans have long been known for their generosity, but yesterday the world was here, and they opened their hearts and emptied their pockets in no uncertain manner. This has long been one of the best parties in racing, but Sunday was a spectacle for everyone, and those who won the bidding duels will have their names carved forever upon the bricks at the Al Maktoum School Of Excellence, which will be a work in progress by the time of next year’s Stallion Day. We have some ambitious plans for this school.

In the event, with just one exception, the stallions all made at least their service fees and in some instances, considerably more, a tribute to their quality and a statement on the atmosphere that marked the occasion. By some stretch, this was the biggest price ever for a mangnum of Waterford Cab.

For the record, Stallion Day’s equivalent of Man of the Match, or Underbidder of the Day, went to Highlands Farm's Mike Sharkey who had a crack at both the Muhtafal, the Kahal services, and then underbid on the Waterford Cabernet. He, Marsh Shirtliff and Jet Master’s Devines were all here to celebrate their big day at the Vodacom Durban July where Pocket Power and Dancer’s Daughter chalked up the first deadheat in 41 years.

Easy cooking for the Durban July

Hartford's Health Bread / Jackie Cameron (p)

Hartford's Health Bread / Jackie Cameron (p)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Hartford House in Mooi River is on Summerhill Estate which is buzzing with activity as the “Vodacom Durban July”, at Greyville Racecourse, approaches (July 5).  This premier horse racing event showcases a few of the niceties of life – thoroughbred champions, striking fashions, as well as innovative ways of presenting stylish food and fine wine with a elegant-picnic slant.

I have included ideas to keep dinner effortless after a busy day of socialising.

First up is a selection of meats and a Midlands’ cheese board with pickles and preserves to tantalise taste buds.  The caramelised onions are one of my favourite side dishes.  Pickled vegetables are seen to be old fashioned but, when it comes to the marriage of meat and cheeses, I think they are essential compliments.  Tomato and onion relish can also be eaten on toast and with curries.  These three dishes can be bottled for future use. I have included Hartford’s health bread recipe which is a firm favourite with guests who visit this country house.

A meal isn’t the same without a sweet ending.  Always take seasonal fruit into account. At this time of the year there is nothing to beat a red wine poached pear with caramel sauce, marinated cinnamon and star anise orange segments, oven roasted pineapple slices with coconut sorbet and fresh grapefruit sprinkled with vanilla sugar.  So uncomplicated!  Now onto an easy panna cotta recipe.  Try it: It really works!  Always, keep in mind when making a panna cotta it must have, as we say in the kitchen, sexy hips – the perfect amount of gelatine.  This dessert can be served with fresh berries, an assortment of fruit or a tasty fresh sorbet.  It can also be varied to suit your palate by infusing any flavour of your choice into the cream.  Suggested ideas include coffee, mint, cocoa, strawberry and the list continues…

I hope this selection of food items will make your eventful weekend less stressful.  Enjoy the greatest racing and social event of the year - the July experience.

Take these recipes and try them.


Post your comments and food-related questions below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
033 263 2713