A stallion poses behind Mick Goss outside the stallion barn. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN / SUNDAY TIMES
A stallion poses behind Mick Goss outside the stallion barn. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN / SUNDAY TIMES

Had Mick Goss pursued a legal career instead of becoming a breeder, chances are he would have been as important in the profession in SA as Rudy Giuliani is in the US.

Reflecting on that decision, Goss said: “I gave up a successful legal practice to sell racehorses to an impoverished market at a very uncertain period in SA’s history.”

With 10 champion breeder titles to Summerhill’s name, as well as numerous grade 1 victories, Goss has left his mark on the sport even if he never sold another horse.

Happily, that will not happen and — despite recent back surgery — Goss will be at the TBA complex in Germiston on Sunday to oversee Summerhill’s large draft for the Emperors Palace Ready-To-Run Sale.

Veteran journos are well aware of the spin emanating from vendors before any bloodstock sale. A year ago, Summerhill’s highly regarded horseman John Motaung was quoted as saying: “Our draft is up there with the best from the past.” In 2019, his comment is: “It’s equal to the best of their forebears.”

In fact, 2019’s Summerhill draft can probably be best described as “as good as any pedigree-wise that we’ve consigned for years”.

How’s this for starters: lot 54 — a half-sister by Willow Magic to SA Derby winner Hero’s Honour; lot 71 — a half-brother by Act Of War to dual grade 1 winner Rabada; and lot 79 — a half-brother by Willow Magic to SA Fillies Classic heroine Takingthepeace.

Lifetime award

In 2018 Summerhill sold 59 two-year-olds for R11.23m and Goss made an important observation: “What was heart-warming was the legion of fresh faces we saw around the ring in the form of new owners.”

A month later, KwaZulu-Natal breeders recognised Goss’s contribution to the breeding industry over four decades by honouring him with a lifetime achievement award.

The 14th running of the Emperors Palace (what outstanding sponsors they have been over the years) will take place on Saturday, and 11 of the 13 previous winners were Summerhill graduates.

That trend may continue as this column’s fancy is the Azzie stable representative Bohica, who has a half-brother by Act Of War coming under the hammer of Graeme Hawkins early on Sunday. In contrast to a number of other lots, this colt is an early foal.

The 145-lot catalogue also includes a number of other well-related youngsters.


Lot 99 is a half-brother by Willow Magic to 2018’s Ready-To-Run Cup winner Vi Va Pi Pa. The Visionaire filly played her part in Sean Tarry’s seasonal total of 165 wins and her half-brother is also an early foal.

This writer has often criticised Goss for some of the names given to Summerhill-breds, but you have to love the one given to Hero’s Honour’s half-sister — Toocoolforschool. It hits the nail on the head as far as my two daughters are concerned.

No doubt Gary and Dean Alexander, who have won four races with Hero’s Honour including the SA Derby, will be taking a close look at this sixth produce of the Australian mare Grail Maiden.

The name given to Takingthepeace’s half-brother is Thamsanqa. I thought, “here we go again”, until I googled the name and found a well-known SA footballer. It will delight some soccer fans.

Other Summerhill lots that should sell well include lot 6, an Act Of War half-brother to six-time winner Winter Star; and lot 18, another Act Of War colt whose dam is a half-sister to grade 1 winner Love Struck.

Other vendors on Saturday include Jane Thomas’s Far End Farm and — after 2018’s sale — Thomas was quoted as “being delighted with the strength of the middle market”.

Heversham Park Stud — halfway between Joburg and the Vaal — is making its presence felt in the bloodstock world with the enthusiastic Katerina and Nigel Riley at the helm. The pick of their eight offerings could be lot 22, a Visionaire colt out of the five-time winner Cantiga De Luar.

In accepting his lifetime award, Goss said: “Like Formula One, racing is as tough as old boots. It’s all about winning and, sadly, in a game where there’s only a whisker in it, second still sucks.”

That may well be the outcome for South African rugby fans on Saturday, but on Sunday there is a chance to buy a horse who, in 12 months, could be racing in a R1m race.

Vaal selections

First race: (3) My Kingdom (1) Karakoram (5) Latest Craze (2) The Russian Sailor

Second race: (14) Tahitian Orana (8) Empress Josephine (4) Constantia (1) Oceans Pride

Third race: (5) Flaming Duchess (6) Smiley River (8) Nazareth (7) Gimme A Rock Star

Fourth race: (1) Sell High (6) Arnica Montana (7) Our Man In Havana (2) Poppycock

Fifth race: (10) Captain Flynt (3) March To Glory (7) Hidden Agenda (9) Sabbatical

Sixth race: (9) Youcanthurrylove (7) Bold Ellie (1) At Hand (2) Trip To Paradise

Seventh race: (3) Fly Away (7) Tropic Sun (2) Phillydelphia (1) Mercer Girl

Eighth race: (4) Purple Diamond (8) Battle Creek (2) Big Blue Marble (5) Tarsus