What’s Another Year?

Looking back to the winning breeder in 2013

Nobody does it better! Mick Goss of Summerhill - Champion breeder for 9 successive years

Nobody does it better! Mick Goss of Summerhill – Champion breeder for 9 successive years

As soon as the back-slapping is over, it’s back to the grindstone. The horses don’t know that we’ve won the championship and they need to be fed. Vintage verse from Summerhill boss Mick Goss as he  reflected on a tough season that went all the way to the wire, with Klawervlei Stud threatening to shatter an extraordinary winning streak.

Goss, who has described racing as ‘an unforgiving business’, led his Summerhill Stud team to a ninth consecutive Breeder’s Championship at last Wednesday’s Equus Awards and few would argue that his astute decisions have proven vital.

While there are the inevitable moaners, Goss played to the whistle and in terms of the rules.

His Equus acceptance speech makes for great reading.

“I know this may be the last time I’ll be standing here for a while. Our pursuers are just too powerful, too good and too numerous to hold on much longer. I’m beginning to understand what Colonel Custer must have felt like, when he made his last stand. So for those who’ve so generously applauded us for the last 9 years, many, many thanks. You never get tired of winning, even if it’s the ninth time. It’s always refreshing, it’s always exhilarating, and when it’s as close as this one was, it’s often bloody exhausting. As much as it means to us, it’s as much of a thrill to Cheryl and I, to get up before the sunrise every day and go to work with one of the world’s greatest teams – and we get to work with the greatest creature the good Lord ever created.

The world outside is a frantic place these days. Sadly, it’s often an angry place, too, and there’s always the danger we forget what it means to be a good sport. Great events like tonight are good for the game, they make us all feel better and they make our sport look grander. So many thanks to the Racing Association and Phumelela, thank you to our good friends at Gold Circle, and to our very good friends, Bob, Nigel and Wayne and their remarkable team here at Emperors.”

One of South African horseracing’s great journalists David Mollet, in York this week to enjoy some spectacular racing,  wrote recently in the Racing Express:

Back in 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg was co-founding Facebook, Goss was on the verge of capturing his first breeders title having established Summerhill with a handful of mares back in 1979.

Champion Breeders - Summerhill

Champion Breeders – Summerhill

“Summerhill is 34 years old and it took 25 of those to produce the first championship – that it’s remained here for the past nine years is a tribute to guts, determination and a work ethic that goes way beyond the call of duty,” commented Goss.

“Horseracing is an unforgiving business – one moment you’re cruising and the next you’re bruising and there’s little time for the fallen,” he added.

Summerhill’s 2012/13 campaign was no cruise. Steinhoff boss, Markus Jooste, has made no secret of his desire to win the title for his Cape-based Klawervlei Stud and the battle went down to the final meetings of the season.

An extract from Mick’s words in the magnificent latest Summerhill Brochure also tells a story.

‘I have never really been far away from the world of racehorses. In that sense, I am a fully-paid-up member of the “secret society”. The racing fraternity gathers each morning on stud farms and at training tracks when normal people are still in bed: it’s a fellowship with its own language and humour, and an unwritten code of rules. Dinner table conversations at home were dominated by horses, and photographs of the noble beasts looked down upon the family from the walls. From the back door of the farmhouse, you smelt soiled straw and fresh hay.

Racing has been good to Cheryl and me. And it has been good to the greater Summerhill family. It has taken us to faraway lands, it has made us many close friends. It’s taken us to the top of the mountain a modern record of eight consecutive times, and it’s sat us down with the Queen of England. Importantly, it’s shown us that kids from the sticks, like us, can make a name for themselves from nothing, and sometimes aspire to excellence.

Above all, it’s taught us that you only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.’

Don’t write them off!

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