Hugh Jonsson Passes Away

Hugh Jonsson Passes Away

Hugh Jonsson, breeder of Jet Master. Image: Leigh Wilson/Summerhill Stud

Hugh Jonsson, famed as Jet Master’s breeder, passed away on Thursday 17 January at the age of 88.

A part-time breeder who gave South African horseracing one its greatest legacies, has passed away in Pietermaritzburg. Hugh Jonsson is the gentleman who sent a Rollins mare to a first season stallion called Rakeen. Jet Master was born in a watershed year for the sport of kings and for this wonderful country.

1994 was the year that the bay foal out of Jet Lightning first set foot on South African soil. He was to change countless lives and rewrite the South African horseracing history books for more decades than we could ever imagine. While the result may seem a freak and a fluke, the former champion sheep breeder and farmer from Rosetta in KwaZulu-Natal Hugh Jonsson, had thoroughly researched and sought wise counsel before sending the mare to Rakeen. Sadly, Jet Master was to be the last horse he bred, before packing it all in.

Hugh Jonsson died in a Pietermaritzburg frail–care facility on Thursday morning at the age of 88. He had been in ill health for some time after suffering a stroke years ago. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Jet Master. Image:

The story of what Hugh Jonsson and ultimately Jet Master achieved warrants a book. But it is worthwhile reflecting on at this sad time for his family and South African racing.

Jet Masters’ story was a fairy-tale. Bred by a part-time breeder, he was spotted by Patricia Devine at the Mare and Weanling Sale in Pietermartizburg. Even though her husband Henry didn’t agree with the purchase of the weanling, which he thought at the time to be below par, it turned out to be the best purchase they could have ever made for just R15 000. Jet Master initially went into training with Tony Millard before joining Geoff Woodruff.

Jet Master had an astounding racing career despite being plagued by breathing problems for which he was operated on. He will also be best remembered for his unusual companion in the form of a sheep, named Sunday Roast, who kept him company. From 24 starts, he had 17 wins – 8 of those being Grade 1 races, including winning the Queen’s Plate twice and was Horse-Of-The-Year twice.

He was sent to Highlands Stud intially but after two seasons he was moved to Klipdrift Farm.

Ravishing, standing at Summerhill Stud. Image: Summerhill Stud

Jet Master has done South Africa proud as a racehorse, and a stallion, even more so that he is locally bred (as well as a KZN-bred). From his first crop came Starlit, Floatyourboat, She’s On Fire, Stratos, Soft Landing and of course the great Pocket Power. The second crop included Grade 1 winners River Jetez, Ravishing (currently standing at Summerhill Stud) and Mythical Flight. His globetrotting progeny include JJ The Jet Plane, River Jetez, and Mythical Flight.

However his most outstanding son to date is the unforgettable gelding who was retired earlier last year – Pocket Power won 20 times with nine Grade 1 titles – one better than his father. Among those were four Queen’s Plates, three Mets and a Durban July. Costing R190 000 as a yearling, he earned more than R10 Million in stakes earnings, and a book was written in his honour.

Jet Master died in 2011, after he was operated on in an attempt to help him regain his co-ordination, a side effect of contracting West Nile Virus.

The KZN Breeders wish to extend our condolences to the Jonsson family.

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