Entries in Horse Chestnut (1)



muhtafal stallion

(Photo : Summerhill Stud / Vuma Horsefeeds)

"More Champions... More Legends"

I read this article a while back, written by Mandy Haskin, daughter of renowned turf writer Steve Haskin :

Click here to read "All The Pretty Horses" by Mandy Haskin...

Her words strike a chord with all of us who have horses in the blood and it made me think of my earliest memories of reading form with my grandfather (much to my mother’s horror), listening to the results on the "wireless", the absolute need to be immersed in horses as much as possible and in more recent years the incredible horses that I have been lucky enough to see and be involved with.

On two previous trips to Kentucky we saw the likes of AP Indy, Danzig, Unbridled and Storm Cat to name just a few. We also saw Horse Chestnut twice and I have been lucky enough to visit him twice again since he has been back in South Africa, at his new home at Drakenstein Stud.

Sadly, we only got to see the graves of the great Nijinsky, Secretariat and Mr Prospector and yet these legends live on in the stories of their triumphs and the people who were privileged enough to be involved with them.

One just has to read the biography of Vincent O’Brien to be awestruck by the icons that he trained and one can only imagine how Aidan O’Brien’s story will read, particularly after his fifth consecutive win in the Irish Derby.

Our own Champion Trainer, Mike de Kock, wrote a book on Horse Chestnut and at the rate he is going, he will need many more pages to recount the successes and experiences of the other great horses that he has had in his care.

Even our current Summerhill and Vuma heroes from the stalwarts, Kahal and Muhtafal, to the young guns in AP Arrow (son of the great AP Indy), Mullins Bay, Solskjaer and Way West, leave their mark on all those that see them and work with them.

Near the stallion barn is the cemetery where among the greats, lies the hero of Summerhill, Northern Guest, revered in an extract from the soon to be released Summerhill Sires brochure :

"Not long ago, when the farm’s most famous resident, Northern Guest, made his daily way to his paddock, the management gathered on the verandah to pay their respects. He’d paid for most of what you saw around you.

Towards the end, the old horse with his arthritic gait, would announce his presence with a reassuring neigh. He was not about to play the invalid. Like every great stallion, he didn’t look at you, but over and beyond, across the fields of dreams."

Yet, here I speak only of famous Legends when every horse that we are each lucky enough to be involved with has its own special place and leaves its own mark on your soul.

Among my Legends is a horse that came off the track having injured a suspensory tendon. After 14 months off he came back to us, only to get horse sickness shortly afterwards. He collapsed and his condition was so severe that the vet at the time wanted to put him down. After persisting for another day and many hours of close care, he had improved enough that while still lying down he was picking at the grass and eating carrots. To say that he is a character would be an understatement! Eight years later he is still one of my best horses and he is my Legend.

This month sees the KZN Racing season peaking, culminating in the Vodacom Durban July at the end of the month. September sees the Keeneland Sales get under way in Kentucky and as they end the World Equestrian Games start.

The Vuma team will be watching closely, as more Champions show their colours and more legends are made.

Perhaps this poem goes some way to explaining the "addiction" that we all have!

stallion bust

Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.

Ronald Duncan, "The Horse" 1954

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