Hartford House is a place to rejuvenate the soul. Everywhere one looked there were the most beautiful horses, well-manicured fields and paddocks, dams and abundant bird life. It was wonderful to get back to nature after the hustle and bustle of city life.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Stud Farms
Dinner at Hartford House is a spectacular five-course affair, served in the grandeur of a timeless dining room, or in the candlelit splendour of one of Africa's great verandas.Read More
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.
Autographed photo of trainer Todd Pletcher with A.P. Arrow and jockey Romon Dominguez
(Photo : Bill Finley)
Bill Finley has many irons in racing's fire. He is one of America's top journalists, and corresponds for Thoroughbred Daily News and ESPN among others, as well as running his own radio show. He was impressed enough in finding A.P. Indy's best racing son of 2008 at Summerhill, to send us an autographed photograph of A.P. Arrow at the Dubai World Cup
with his Hall of Fame trainer, Todd Pletcher, and his jockey Ramon Dominguez. For what it's worth, A.P. Arrow made the money that evening in the world's richest horserace, going down just a neck to the following year's hero, Well Armed.
The photo illustrates the level of concentration that goes into a US$5million purse. Bill's comments follow :
"I had a wonderful time while visiting the farm and staying at Hartford House. That was one of the best meals I have ever eaten."
"Thanks so much for providing me with a memorable couple of days."