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: Vodacom Durban July


BJ Botha / Keo (p)

BJ Botha / Keo (p)


This is not a rugby selector's statement; it comes from a hotelier. World Cup-winning Springbok tighthead prop,Brendan Botha and his lovely wife Tarryn, were back at Hartford again this week after his torrid Tri Nations tour to Australasia. In the peak of health, "BJ" assures us there are only a few small things wrong with the Springbok team at the moment, requiring a few "tweaks", and all will be well. Brendan and Tarryn are among a number of sporting fans of Hartford, including former Springbok rugby captains, Gary Teichmann and Francois Pienaar,coach Jake White, and former Proteas cricket captain, Shaun Pollock. Brendan also has the distinction of being an alumnus of that fine sporting institution, Durban High School, the most prolific school academy in the production of international cricketers in the world, though it has to be said, this man is a rare rugby Springbok.

Closer to home, we have a "horsey" weekend ahead with the greatest of the greatest, the Vodacom Durban July on Saturday, and "Racing's Greatest Day Out", the Summerhill Stallion Day, right here on the farm on Sunday. We'll be feeding close to 700 people from at least 14 different nations this weekend, and looking at Friday evening's guest list at Hartford, apart from the equine contingent, we have the return of one of television's most recognised personalities in Martin Locke, Isidingo's Carolyn Steyn and Vodacom man on the screen, Michael De Pinna, who will be entertained by Waterford's lyrical winemaker, Kevin Arnold. It takes all types to make up a race meeting!

summerhill stud south africa

For more information on the Summerhill Stallion Day please visit :

Ardmore Ceramic Art - The Summerhill Collection

summerhill stud ardmore ceramic collection

Summerhill Stallion Day
"The day after the Vodacom Durban July"

What has become as much a tradition as the Vodacom Durban July itself, the annual Summerhill Stallion Day dubbed "Racing's Greatest Day Out", is always a grand occasion where the who's who of racing descend on Summerhill Stud to pay homage to some of Africa's most exciting Thoroughbred Stallion prospects.

Quite fitting then that this year's event will witness the teaming up of two formidable forces in their own fields, in a celebration of excellence and dedication.

South Africa’s premier ceramic studio, Ardmore Ceramic Art, and South Africa’s Champion Thoroughbred Breeder, Summerhill Stud, will unveil an exciting new Ardmore ceramic collection inspired by the horses, people and nature at Summerhill.

The Ardmore artists have created Staffordshire-like everyday farm scenes including Summerhill Stallions walking the lands, yearlings being bandaged, foals being born and Ready to Run graduates galloping to victory.

Most of Ardmore’s 80 artists live in the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal steeped in tradition, where music, song and dance prevail. After two successful London sales held in 2004 and 2007, Christie’s labeled Ardmore “a modern day collectable”. Collectors around the world love Ardmore’s distinctive style - a fusion of African, Western and Eastern form and design embellished with sculptural African fauna and flora and painted in a kaleidoscope of colour.

Ardmore’s talented artists create with passion and freedom and many have intuitively found their own style. The decorative collectibles have an elegant charm as has the work of the realists who are inspired by nature. The exotic naturalists add an artistic fantasy to their painting. Then, there are the free spirits whose sculpture and painting is expressive of their imagination and is without inhibition or apology. Lastly, the ‘Storytellers’ incorporate the human figure as they sculpt and paint Zulu cultural and social events.

A percentage of Ardmore sales is contributed to The Excellence Fund, a non-profit organization that also receives donations from many people worldwide. The Excellence Fund assists the artists to advance their education and skills training, and provides health care. In the current economic situation marked by rising unemployment and health care costs, the role of the Excellence Fund is critically important.

The artists are proud of their achievements and are known amongst their community as the “isgwili” (fortunate ones).

So if you’re going to be at the Summerhill Stallion Day on Sunday, you’re in for a real treat... where the ceramicists have traded in their zebra stripes for the racing thoroughbred.

Marsh Shirtliff, Mike and Carol Bass make the Pilgrimage

mike and carol bass with marsh shirtliff at hartford house

Mike and Carol Bass with Marsh Shirtliff pictured awaiting their famous
Hartford salmon omelettes
(Photo : Leigh Willson)

With the 2009 renewal of Africa's greatest horserace, the Vodacom Durban July, now just a few days away, we have already welcomed an array of racing's eminent personalities through the gates of Hartford.

One of whom is Marsh Shirtliff. Marshis not a superstitious man, not as far as we know, yet he does know that there hasn’t been a July winner in the past twenty years whose connections have not made it to Summerhill for the July, or at the very least, for our Stallion Day on the Sunday afterwards. The trick is either to make it beforehand or to make sure you’ve accepted the invitation in advance for Stallion Day, otherwise you risk taking on history. So Marsh dragged Mike and Carol Bass to the farm on a spectacular Sunday morning, and they took up their lodgings in the Inkanyezi and Nhlanhla suites while the Bass stable was cleaning up in the big events in Cape Town.

Logic tell us Pocket Power is a shoe-in for the big race, but Mike Bass (and you’d better be listening, if you intend having an interest in the big event next Saturday) thinks River Jetez is twice the filly she was last season. Let’s not forget what a big race she ran in the 2008 Vodacom Durban July, and if she’s twice as good as that, Pocket Power himself will need to have made some improvement to keep her out. And that he undoubtedly has, having had a trouble free “prep” for the first time in his life.

Of course, with three of our own in the line-up, it would be uncharitable of us not to wish them everything of the best, but we really hope that if either of them fluff their lines, the gates will open for Thandolwami, Outcome or Catmandu.

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