Greyville Racecourse in downtown Durban is gearing up for another capacity crowd, as the 121st edition of the Durban July attracts punters, socialites and fashion-lovers from every corner of the country.
With the weather forecast to be mild and breezy, the stage is set for a magical day at the races, against the backdrop of the raceday theme “The Colour of Magic” that governs all the fashion, hospitality and décor elements of the big day.
The event will attract the country’s A list celebrities, beauty queens, sporting icons, musicians and movie stars, who will rub shoulders with the captains of industry and the who’s who of the political world.
The pinnacle of the day is the running of the R4,25 million Durban July to decide the name to be added to the sash beneath the name of last year’s winner, The Conglomerate.
The Joey Ramsden-trained five-year-old could become the first thoroughbred to win back-to-back titles since El Picha did the double for Geoff Woodruff in 1999 and 2000.
Punters have thrown their support behind the Brett Crawford-trained Edict Of Nantes since the final field was announced last week, but the late rally in betting has been for the Sean Tarry-trained three-year-old colt Al Sahem, and stablemate French Navy.
With the majority of the visitors to the Durban July flying and driving in from Gauteng, the weekend is a bonanza for the local economy, which nets an estimated R133 million in direct expenditure around the event, and around R260 million overall from their weekend stay in the province. This excludes the amount in excess of R100 million that is expected to wagered on the totes on raceday.
There are winners on and off the track. With millions being spent on hosting guests in the lavish suites and Marquee Village, there is also dogged competition to try and win the award for the best decorated venue on raceday.
From 9.30am, the track will be a swathe of colour as eager fashionistas try to catch the judges eye to make the finals of the four raceday fashion competitions for Classic Racewear (Male and Female), the Huawei Most Striking Couple and Exceptional Raceday Hat or Fascinator.
At 1pm, the outfits put together by the eight household names that are part of the Durban July Invited Designer Showcase will be presented on the Action Stage, providing the day’s fashion highlight.
This will follow the long-awaited announcement of the winners of the Durban July Young Designer Award and the Fashion Challenge, presented by Durban Fashion Fair.
Celebrating 15 years as the title sponsor of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, Vodacom is staging the #VodacomRedDash4Cash competition, with cash and Huawei smartphone prizes to be given away to the value R250 000.
To enter, participants must listen to East Coast Radio or follow its social media accounts to discover two locations at the Durban July where they need to take a selfie and then post it to their own social media account.
Each selfie counts as a separate individual entry for the grand prize, so the more landmarks visited and selfies posted, the greater the chance of winning the grand prize of R100 000.
Visitors to the Durban July will be able to enjoy the contemporary catering and hospitality on offer at the new lifestyle village close to the Action Stage, where a range of trendy food offerings will be available from a fleet of food trucks.
Once the shadows fall across the infield, the evening will feature four races under floodlights, before the event switches to party mode.
The organisers of the event have extended the closing time of the event to 11pm and urged those enjoying the evening festivities to be mindful of their valuables at all times.
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
09.30am – Fashion on the Track – Competition judges will start scouting for finalists. Entertainment on the Action Stage.
11.25am – RACE 1 GREYVILLE CONVENTION CENTRE Handicap – 1 400m – POLYTRACK
11.30am – Fashion on the Action Stage – Final of Classic Racewear Male and Female Exceptional Raceday Hat or Fascinator
12.10pm – RACE 2 MUMM Stakes – 1 400m POLYTRACK
12.15pm – Fashion on the Action Stage – Final – HUAWEI Most Striking Couple. Winners of the Fashion Challenge and the Young Designer Award will be announced.
12.55pm – RACE 3 BETTING WORLD 2200 (Grade 3) – 2 200m – R500 000
1pm – Fashion on the Action Stage – Showing of the Invited Designer Showcase creations.
1.35pm – RACE 4 SABC GOLD VASE (Grade 3) – 3 000m – R500 000
1.40pm – Fashion on the Action Stage – Finalists in the HUAWEI Most Striking Couple, Classic Racewear Female, Classic Racewear. Male and Exceptional Raceday Hat or Fascinator categories will parade and the category winners will be announced.
2.25pm – RACE 5 GOLD CIRCLE GOLDEN SLIPPER (Grade 2) – 1 400m – R600 000
2.30pm – SABC Sport on 3 live broadcast begins. On-track entertainment.
3.10pm – RACE 6 DURBAN GOLDEN HORSESHOE (Grade 2) – 1 400m – R600 000
3.40pm – Jockeys enter the parade ring for introduction to the crowds. The tunnel under the track at the finish will close until 4.55pm. The tunnel at the 300m mark will remain open.
3.55pm – Jockeys mount.
4pm – Horses leave the parade ring.
4.10pm – The South African National Anthem.
4.20pm – RACE 7 THE DURBAN JULY (Grade 1) – 2 200m – R4 250 000
16.25pm – Victory canter by the winner of the Durban July.
4.30pm – The Durban July winner will enter the Gold Horseshoe lead-in area in front of the main grandstand, followed by the presentation of silver salvers and the winners’ sashes.
5.15pm – RACE 8 COMPENDIUM INSURANCE BROKERS HANDICAP – 1 000m – R120 000 – POLYTRACK
5.25pm – Gold Circle proudly presents night racing for the balance of the Durban July Race meeting with entertainment between races live from the Action Stage.
5.55pm – RACE 9 KZN YEARLING SALE MILLION – 1 300m – R1 000 000
6.35pm – RACE 10 JONSSON WORKWEAR Garden Province Stakes (Grade 1) – 1 600m – R1 000 000
7.15pm – RACE 11 eThekwini Sprint (three-year-olds) – 1 200m – R120 000 – POLYTRACK
7.55pm – RACE 12 DAISY BUSINESS SOLUTIONS HANDICAP (Listed) – 1 600m – R150 000
More information can be found at: www.vodacomdurbanjuly.co.za