Having operated previously as a remount station for the British Army during the Boer War, Mauritzfontein was bought by Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer in 1945. The couple became involved in horse racing shortly after the war, in the 1940s. Kimberley was headquarters of the De Beers Mining Company, of which Harry Oppenheimer was Chairman, and was represented by Oppenheimer in Parliament, a seat which he held from 1948 to 1957. Mauritzfontein is only 15 minutes from the centre of Kimberley, so it seemed the perfect place to build their home from home and begin their breeding operations.
In 1951, Mauritzfontein imported its first stallion, Janus who was by Pharis and had been a top-class racehorse in France. Janus was the sire of Tiger Fish (Durban July Handicap), Open Sea and Ellation. He also sired Baccarat and Dame de Coeur- both of whom where back to back winners of the Oaks (1962-62).
In 1959, Mauritzfontein imported Wilwyn who, incidentally, was the first horse ever to be flown into South Africa. Four years later he was crowned South Africa’s Champion Sire, as a result of his top-class progeny, King Willow, Smash And Grab and Uncle Ben. He became a fantastic broodmare sire and his daughters produced, among others, Sentinel, Hidden Magic, Faro and Canyon Creek. Wilwyn’s son, Col. Pickering, is also the broodmare sire of the famous Horse Chestnut.
In 1965, Free Ride stood his first season at stud. His offspring included no fewer than five SA Oaks winners and the likes of Principal Boy (Durban July), Oakland Bay (SA Derby), Bodrum (SA Classic), With Pleasure (Natal Oaks) together with Run For Roses and Medora both of whom won the Paddock Stakes, Gr.1.
The next champion sire to be imported to Mauritzfontein arrived in 1994 – Fort Wood. A Group 1 winning son of Sadler’s Wells out of the dam Fall Aspen who produced four Group 1 winners. Fort Wood was set to take the farm’s legacy to a whole new level – the writing was on the wall with his first-ever runner, Horse Chestnut. This legend of the turf was to win the Triple Crown and J&B Met all in the same year and was named Horse Of The Year (1999). To date, Fort Wood has produced three Horse Of The Year colts and has already proved a magnificent sire of sires. His son Dynasty, who won the Durban July Handicap, has gone on to produce champions in Irish Flame, Equus Champion Beach Beauty, Jackson, Legislate and J&B Met winner, Futura. Fort Wood has also won champion broodmare titles and his daughters have produced among others, Capetown Noir, Thunder Dance, Pluck and Triple Tiara winner, Cherry On The Top.
Strike Smartly, a full brother to Smart Strike was imported in an attempt to create a successful cross for the many Fort Wood mares at Mauritzfontein. Sadly his career was cut short, and he left behind only six racing crops. Despite this, he produced Smart Banker who won 11 races including the Horse Chestnut Stakes twice. Strike Smartly also sired Bouquet-Garni (SA Derby), Prestic, General Sherman and multiple Group 1 winner Slumdogmillionaire.
Currently, Mauritzfontein stands the son of Kingmambo out of Banks Hill, Ideal World and the handsome Danon Platina (by Deep Impact) who was crowned Champion 2 Year Old in Japan having won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes over a mile. Ideal World has had huge success with his progeny on the racetrack. Both Smart Call and Rainbow Bridge have won the Group 1 Metropolitan, Smart Call going on to win a Group race in the United Kingdom before starting her stud career. Hermoso Mundo was crowned Equus Champion Stayer and the likes of Zante, Dark Moon Rising, Helen’s Ideal, Hero Quest, Zen Arcade and Louisiana are a few of the names that have contributed to Ideal World’s rise up the stallion log and the highest average earnings for the 2019 season.
Mauritzfontein has been home to some potent female lines that have woven the fabric of many of its greatest triumphs. Fisherman’s Prayer by King Salmon produced three SA Oaks winners as well as champions King Willow, Tiger Fish, Lightning Path and Hengist. Eight of her descendants went on to win classic races. Julie Andrews won the Oaks herself before going on to produce Principal Boy, Col. Pickering and the brilliant filly, Grease Paint. The imported Antalya by Acropolis produced Nalatale, a champion sprinter, who produced five winners, including ARCSA Champion 3-year-old colt, Bodrum. Down her family line, Nalatale is also responsible for the mighty Horse Chestnut, classic filly Monyela, Sports Chestnut and Asylum Seeker.
In the last year, Mauritzfontein has begun a renewed effort to obtain fresh blood and exceptionally well-bred fillies to continue the dynasty and shape their thoroughbred nursery. Mauritzfontein has produced no fewer than 14 Oaks winners, 7 Durban July winners and most impressively a Triple Crown and a Triple Tiara winner. With the expert management team now lead by Mike Sharkey and Nigel Page, Mauritzfontein is doing everything in its power to ensure they go from strength to strength.