IT’s been more than fifteen years since a pressman famously dubbed the Summerhill Stallion Day “Racing’s Best Day Out”, and this year, judging by the response from far and wide, it will be no different. The lure of magnificent thoroughbreds, the prospect of sitting down to a meal by a national Top Five restaurant and hob-nobbing it with heads of state, cabinet ministers, racing chairmen and CEOs, racing clubs, breeders’ organisations and journalists from across the globe, bloodstockers, trainers and jockeys, the nation’s leading owners and breeders, all manner of aficionados of the sport; they’ll all be at Summerhill to honour the racehorse.
It’s a sign of the magnetism of the game that the attendees this year include Their Majesties King Letsie and Queen Masenate of Lesotho; former Premier of KZN and ANC Treasurer General, Dr Zweli Mkhize and his wife Dr May; Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe and his wife Bridget (the owner of Tribal Dance) and recently appointed MEC for Agriculture, Cyril Xaba, who bears the main trust of Premier Senzo Mchunu’s new economic development plan for KZN.
There are close on 20 countries represented, including Ireland, Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, India, the USA, Chechnya, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho. Sunday’s events are all about what’s best in the thoroughbred, the fastest weight-carrying creature the world has ever known, and Britain’s greatest gift to the animal kingdom. It is a lure that is strongest in the valleys of giant, where for 8 full decades, Summerhill has been its temple.
It’s probably fair to say that from a tourism perspective, the armada of cars that files through the village of Mooi River on the first Sunday of July each year for these events, is otherwise unmatched through the rest of the year, including Christmas day, and while numbers of them will be filing home after Sunday’s events, a sizeable lot are staying on in the district for the exceptional lineup of local and international speakers attending the Cathsseta Winter Workshop in Summerhill’s School of Equine Management Excellence. This workshop is the intellectual highlight of the racing year, a rare opportunity to connect with the wisdom of the doyens of the local and international industries and business.