WHEN Summerhill Stud’s man Thabani Nzimande took a flight from the warm climes of Sunny South Africa on his way to The English National Stud, he didn’t know what he was in for. It’s cold in Mooi River in winter, and sometimes very cold, but nothing prepares you for knee-deep snow, rain and ice, particularly when it’s your first welcome at Heathrow airport.
Thabani Nzimande was the recipient of the Childwick Trust Scholarship to the English National Stud as the top graduate of Summerhill’s School of Management Excellence last year. Selected in a tight contest by the school’s governors, Judge Alan Magid and ex Jockey Club Chair, Ronnie Napier.
Thabani Nzimande with Mathew de Kock in the UK. (summerhill.co.za).
A chance visit to Hartford House at the end of an arduous odyssey through the back streets of rural South Africa, led Anthony Cane, chairman of Epsom racecourse and home to England’s most famous horse race, and John Woods to the School of Excellence and to an understanding of what it represents.
As trustees of the Childwick Trust, they immediately saw an opportunity to benefit a segment of disadvantaged community in South Africa in a sphere closest to the heart of the original benefactor, Jim Joel. As it happened, Anthony Cane was also a trustee at the English National Stud, and there was serendipity in the three connections, Epsom racecourse, where the Derby is sponsored these days by a South African company, (Investec), The National Stud and the School of Excellence.
Anthony Cane is no ordinary trustee though. He’s serious about his work, and he has a deep and sincere interest in the outcomes of the trust’s activities. He was in contact recently with Tabitha Smith, training director at The National Stud, and she copied Summerhill Stud on part of the report she had directed to Anthony.
“Stephen Wallis mentioned to me that he had seen you and that you spoke about coming to meet Thabani. We would be delighted to introduce him to you and any of your fellow Trustees if they are available. Thabani is continuing to be a great success; he has received his first formal feedback on his yard rotations and his time on the Stallion unit. From both he got a glowing report and that is no mean feat from our Head Stallion Man! He has formed a really good friendship with Mathew de Kock and gets on extremely well with the rest of his peer group and staff alike”.
Thabani and fellow South African Mathew de Kock, son and assistant to South Africa’s most famous racing couple, Mike and Diane de Kock, is part of a group of new recruits from across the world, where they are attending the National Stud’s globally acclaimed course in horse stud management.