A chapter in Cape breeding history closed this week as another opened, with the light of a fresh new dawn appearing on the horizon.
The breaking news that Maine Chance supremo and champion breeder Dr Andreas Jacobs has purchased the historic and tradition-laden Litchfield Stud from the Winshaw family will be music to the ears of the South African racing and breeding industry, and a welcome broader vote of confidence in the African continent.
It is no secret that the Jacobs family have a deep affinity and love for the serenity and rustic beauty of the Robertson valley, also known as the ‘Valley of wine, roses and horses’.
“My wife Natalie and I have known the Winshaws and have been visiting their beautiful farm for over fifteen years. We were privileged to stand the Litchfield-bred Victory Moon at Maine Chance, and in later years also acquired the majority of their broodmare band. When the opportunity arose to purchase the farm and continue its proud legacy, we did not hesitate to enter into discussions with them,” Dr Jacobs told the Sporting Post on Sunday. When asked what the plans were for Litchfield Stud, the internationally acclaimed breeder said that a variety of options were being considered. “It is our intention to continue with Litchfield as a horse nursery, while incorporating a hospitality aspect to it. We have developed a unique facility for seminars at our breeding operation in Germany, combining educational and explorative courses in an equine environment. We envisage replicating something similar at Litchfield. This will naturally encompass investment and opportunities to uplift the livelihood of the local community,” added Dr Jacobs.
Anybody who has enjoyed a visit to Litchfield Stud, will attest to the captivating beauty and ambiance of the 23 ha farm, situated on Robertson’s well known ‘Golden Mile’.
Geoff and Katherine Winshaw have lived on the farm for 32 years after purchasing it from the Late, successful owner, Ken McKenzie in 1998. “Handing over the reins to our friends Andreas and Natalie makes parting so much sweeter,” they added. From a small band of select mares a number of notable big race winners have been produced on this stud, most notably, the pioneering Dubai Horse Of The Year Victory Moon, who put Litchfield on the international stage winning the Gr2 UAE Derby, Gr2 Maktoum Challenge (Round 3), Gr3 Maktoum Challenge (Round 2) and Gr3 UAE 2000 Guineas in Dubai. He also ran third in the Gr1 Dubai World Cup. He made his mark standing at Maine Chance and despite passing at a young age, was the sire of multiple Gr1 winning champion Princess Victoria, Gr1 Golden Horseshoe winner War Horse, East Cape champion Blaze Of Fire, and the globetrotting Nocturnal Affair, among others.
Geoff and Katherine wound down their thoroughbred breeding operation some years ago, and the first seeds of the present transaction could well have been sown when Andreas Jacobs bought their broodmare band at the time.
The Jacobs family needs no introduction. Steeped in international thoroughbred racehorse breeding, they are the proud holders of the reigning South African Horse of the Year trophy via superstar Princess Calla, and have added another winner to the Maine Chance Farms stable with the acquisition of the Litchfield Stud property, that, as observed, has itself been the launching pad of generations of champions.
Walther J. Jacobs, father of Klaus, grandfather of Andreas, founded Gestüt Fährhof near Bremen, Germany in 1960 and developed it into an internationally-recognised and respected stud farm. Decades of champions first saw the light of day at the Jacobs operation and it was on Walther Jacobs’s passing that Andreas took over the mantle of Chairmanship of the family owned Fährhof, whilst his father Klaus acquired Newsells Park Stud in England and set up one of the world’s most progressive commercial breeding operations just outside Newmarket. Klaus built Newsells Park Stud into a successful breeding and racing operation.
On Klaus Jacobs passing in September 2008, Andreas Jacobs became Chairman of Newsells Park Stud and after a successful 13 years it was sold in the summer of 2021 for an undisclosed sum. Andreas and his wife Natalie visited Maine Chance Farms in early 2002, and fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the Robertson district and didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to acquire Maine Chance, described by them at the time as ‘one of the most beautiful stud farms in the world’, in the fertile, lime rich Robertson valley.
From the early days of subsequent multiple SA champion sire Silvano, who was a revelation becoming SA Champion Sire 6 times, the dynasty has continued with his Champion son Vercingetorix having taken over the mantle in recent years. Maine Chance Farms is also the home of Champion 2yo Sire Querari, Champion First Season Sire Erupt and up and coming young sire Quasillo, who has produced a few small crops due to infertility problems.
Continuous importation of fillies and broodmares from Europe has supplemented Maine Chance’s high-quality broodmare band. Dr Jacobs is always at pains to point out that Maine Chance’s legendary history in the production of multiple champions and five consecutive breeder’s championship titles is a testament to the late founders, Godfrey Gird and Graham Beck.
The proud tradition of excellence has continued into the 21st century and now the addition of the Litchfield Stud name to the Jacobs stable heralds an exciting new chapter!
– Sporting Post