Cape Town is hosting its summer carnival with major racedays throughout the month of January culminating with the famous J&B Met meeting at Kenilworth Racecourse on Saturday 30th January.
The first recorded winner of the Metropolitan Mile, as it was originally known in 1883, was Sir Hercules and, while the race had a chequered existence for many years in the early 1900’s, by the 1960’s it was firmly established as one of the “big three” races in South Africa along with the Vodacom Durban July and the Summer Cup in Gauteng.
The race really came alive for those outside of racing circles when in 1978 J&B stepped in as sponsor and the J&B Met has now become the longest running sponsorship for the company.
The J&B Met roll of honour includes the names of many of the top horses to race in the country including Foveros, Wolf Power, Model Man, Empress Club, London News, Horse Chestnut and Yard-Arm.
Brilliant four-year-old Futura, trained by Brett Crawford, won the race last year.
Kenilworth will attract a crowd of 50,000 on J&B Met Day who remarkably will surround the seasonal wetland in the middle of the course and home to the best preserved area of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos in the world. Undisturbed for more than 100 years, the 52-hectare nature reserve hosts hundreds of fauna species; at least 20 species are listed as endangered.
Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe was the trainer to follow on the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on 7th January, saddling the first three thoroughbred winners on the Longines-presented card.
In fact the Emirati trainer won every thoroughbred race in which he saddled a runner.
His evening was highlighted by Le Bernardin who was victorious in the featured 1600m Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, the third of Al Raihe’s four winners.
Impressive when winning the Listed Dubai Creek Mile three weeks ago, Le Bernardin had to work harder on this occasion but was never far off the speed under Tadhg O’Shea, who enjoyed a treble on the card.
The three month Dubai World Cup Carnival has 181 accepted horses with 22 Group or Grade 1 winners among them, as well as 17 horses who claimed a Group or Grade 2 contest as their best result and 22 for whom a Group or Grade 3 win was their top performance.
The accepted horses come from 16 countries and this year count among their number the first Dubai World Cup Carnival representatives from South Korea in Cheongu and Success Story, trained by Inseok Seo.
The Carnival features a further nine days of high-class international racing leading up to the Dubai World Cup on Saturday 26th March.