Dream merchant who dares to dream
MICK Goss was snowed in at Mooi River this week and couldn't get to Johannesburg for the Equus Awards.
Someone at Wednesday's bash commented that it took nothing less than an act of God to prevent the ebullient Goss from collecting the Champion Breeder trophy for his Summerhill Stud. Not that he would have been gloating at the gala dinner.
Far from it. Goss has a charmed way with words and uses lots of them to promote his business but, at the same time, he is determinedly modest, grounded and grateful for success.
Breeding horses takes the braggadocio out of one. It's the most demanding and capital-intensive part of the racing set-up, taking years to get results. One must be patient and believe your foals will deliver in some dim distant future.
Indeed, breeders trade in dreams - their own and those of their customers. And dreams can do damage - to egos and bank balances. But without them where would we be?
Goss was once an up-and-coming Durban lawyer, but had a bad dose of racing sickness.
In 1979 he gave up his practice to go and breed horses - with little more than a beguiling dream to his name.
He made it go a long way.
Most stud farms are capitalised by large piles of family or corporate money, but Summerhill was built the hard way - with slog and crafty management. From an initial 6% share of an undistinguished farm near Mooi River called Summerhill, Goss and his wife, Cheryl, doggedly built their enterprise into one of the most admired studs in the world - not to mention South Africa's top breeder.
Now, with an eighth successive championship in the bag, you can't blame the Summerhill team for feeling proud. Ranged against them was some seriously moneyed opposition from the stud farms of the Western Cape.
Goss wrote on the Summerhill website last week: "It is a salute to the uncertainties of the game, to the adage that inspired the belief that kids from the sticks, like us, can prevail against the odds. That you don't have to own a fortune in order to know the top of the mountain. That hard work, obsession and the sheer love of the game can take you to new worlds of conquest."
Klawervlei stud pushed Summerhill all the way last season. At one stage, Goss observed, "we looked like toast". Smanjemanje's second place in the Durban July swung things his way - which was apt as he has championed Zulu names for horses, in honour of the horsemen to whom he accords much credit for his success.
Summerhill had R13.3-million in stake earnings to Klawervlei's R11.9-million. The cherry on top was Summerhill's former champion stallion Northern Guest winning the Champion Broodmare/Sire title for the 10th time.
Goss once said to me: "There isn't a pebble on this farm that we don't daily thank Northern Guest for." A horse, and a man, who made dreams come true.