Africa’s greatest horse racing event

The 2016 renewal of the Vodacom Durban July meeting at Greyville, South Africa, will be held on July 2nd and the event, billed by organisers Gold Circle as Africa’s greatest horse racing event, is set to not only be the region’s premier horseracing and social event, but also a reminder of the major economic impact Asian Racing Federation racing carnivals have.

The historic race, first run in 1897 and contested over 1600m for a stake of 500 sovereigns, has grown to have the richest prizemoney for African racing with an economic benefit for the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal measured at R440 million for the 2015 meeting.

The 2015 economic study found that the number of guests from outside of KwaZulu-Natal has increased from 20% in 2011 to more than 50%, bringing with it an ever increasing spend on local hotels and accommodation, restaurants and other tourism facilities.

The survey put an estimation of spending by out-of-province visitors attending the Durban July at as much as R156 million, with KwaZulu-Natal patrons spending up to R70.6 million.

Power Court (SAF), the 2015 winner of the Vodacom Durban July, picture Liesl King

This year Greyville will host 55,000 patrons to watch the centre piece of South Africa’s races, the R4.25m, Group 1 Vodacom Durban July (2200m), and mingle with haute couture form and flamboyance that each year is showcased by a theme for race patrons.

This year’s theme is ‘Leader of the Pack’ with fashion and young designer awards a vital part of the lead-up to the event encouraging patrons to dress to the theme and combining style and thoroughbreds.

The Vodacom Durban July meeting is part of the Champions Season in South Africa running from the beginning of May to the end of July, with a programme of 54 graded, listed and special events.

The Champions Season caters for all the needs of the thoroughbred population with major contests for two-year-olds, three-year-olds and the older horses from sprints through middle distance races to stayers.

The July 2nd meeting has a 12 race programme with the R1m, Group 1 Garden Province Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares accompanying the Durban July at the elite Group 1 level. The two-year-old’s compete in the R600,000, Group 2 Golden Horseshoe (1200m) with the fillies in the R600,000, Group 2 Golden Slipper (1400m).

The Group 3 duo of the Campanaio 2200 (2200m) and Gold Vase (3000m), plus the listed Thukela Handicap (1600m) round out the black type races. The schedule has the first race at 11.15am with the final at 7.55pm with the meeting broadcast on racing channels around the world including a live broadcast on SABC Sport to South African sports fans.