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: Summerhill

A PRIVATE RACE MEETING - WHAT A CELEBRATION!

Private Race Meeting at Hartford
(Photos : Leigh Willson)

"PLATINUM CLASS"

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colt and Stakes-winning filly, all of which have retired to our paddocks, and for one reason or another are no longer active as racehorses or at stud.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!

LEOPARDS IN THE KZN MIDLANDS

Leopard / Philip Mackenzie (p)

Leopard / Philip Mackenzie (p)

YOU CAN'T CHANGE A LEOPARD'S SPOTS

There are people who pay independent fortunes to find leopards and their cubs in the wild reserves of Africa. At Summerhill, we’ve long preserved the fauna and flora around us in conjunction with our neighbours, and we are the proud possessors today of a rich legacy and a deep diversity in the animals and plant types that characterize our environment.

Among the predator creatures that frequent our territory are Caracal (Rooikat), several packs of Jackal, the occasional Cape Fox, and Serval. We’ve been known in the district to have the odd rare visit from a Leopard, and our horse breeding colleagues up the road at Camargue Stud once suffered a loss of several yearlings as a result of their taking flight when a male of the species passed through their paddock several years back.

We don’t recall any reports of sightings on Summerhill though, so imagine our surprise on Monday evening when our hotel manager, Paula Mackenzie, spotted a female leopard and her three cubs on the roadside at the junction dip between our two properties, The Springs and Summerhill. What a sight, and what a pleasure to know that she should feel comfortable raising a family in our neighbourhood. Leopards are strongly territorial animals, and operate within a well defined range. They have been known to pitch up at the strangest places, but seldom venture beyond the kloofs and forests that provide cover for them during the day. There’s little that will prey on their cubs at Summerhill, and it says something for our conservation practices here that this lady should feel free to roam as she has, to our eastern most boundary.

Something for visitors to look forward to at Hartford House, as she’s likely to be in the vicinity for some time, while the youngsters grow up.