Vodacom Durban July's positive economic impact

South Africa’s largest race meeting, the Durban July held at Greyville, Durban, last Saturday, was once again was an economic powerhouse as well as highly competitive racing programme.

The consistently increasing number of visitors from outside of KwaZula-Natal was estimated to have an economic injection worth around R300 million for the regional economy.

Up to 40% of the crowd at Greyville Racecourse on Saturday will have travelled into KwaZulu-Natal for the weekend, most of them from Gauteng, resulting in a massive demand for luxury accommodation, pre- and post-event parties, restaurants and entertainment in the greater Durban area.

Palesa Phili, Chief Executive Officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the Vodacom Durban July is the biggest sporting event hosted by eThekwini, followed by the Comrades Marathon, and a hallmark sporting event for the City.

“The Vodacom Durban July is one of South Africa’s most respected sporting events and has become a highlight for both South Africans and overseas visitors who flock to Durban to witness what has become known as “Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event”,” said Phili.

Phili pointed out that the one-day event brought with it a wide range of socio-economic benefits to the local economy.

According to Durban Tourism, projected event visitors are estimated to be around 32,191 local residents, and 11,683 tourists. Durban Tourism has projected that, if spending is similar to previous years, visitors will spend around R99,685,997 with a contribution to eThekwini’s GDP of R267,976,581.

The feature of the race meeting, the R4.25m, Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July (2200m), was won by the Justin Snaith trained Do It Again for the second successive year.

The four-year-old son of Twice Over rallied from a rail-skimming ride by Richard Fourie to run down the middle of the straight and defeat old rival Rainbow Bridge by just under 1/2 length. He became the first back-to-back winner of Africa's iconic race since El Picha in 1999-2000.

The win was the seventh for Do It Again, with most of those coming in graded stakes against the toughest South Africa has to offer. With the prospect that onerous quarantine requirements affecting South African horses might be eased soon, Do It Again might get a chance to see more of the world.

"If it opens up, anything is an option," Snaith said, cautioning that the gelding's owners enjoy racing in South Africa.

Snaith's brother and partner in the family racing dynasty, Jonathan, said if international travel is an option, the 2020 Breeders' Cup at Keeneland might be a target.

"He's the best weight-for-age horse (in South Africa) and now he's proved he's the best by far in South Africa," said Jonathan Snaith. "He will go down as one of the greatest."

The complexion of the race changed at the gate as the favourite, Hawwaam, acted up, injured his hip and was scratched.

Trainer Mike de Kock said it "would have been interesting" to see a showdown between his colt and Do It Again, adding later, "After all the drama, I'm happy to report Hawwaam is fine. He'll live to fight another day."

1.Do It Again (J Snaith)
2.Rainbow Bridge (E Sands)
3.Twist Of Fate (J Ramsden)
4.Eyes Wide Open (G Kotzen)
5.Miyabi Gold (J Snaith)
6.Camphortus (RA/SA Hill)