Off to the races! What to expect from 2022 Durban July

The highly anticipated 2022 Durban July Handicap is back again this year after two years of hosting “Africa’s greatest horse racing event” behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This Saturday, 2 July, the most lavish annual event in South Africa’s sporting and entertainment calendar will be hosted by new race title sponsors Hollywoodbets. 

Racegoers can expect the adrenaline rush of a Grade 1 international race, mixed with glamorous fashion, music and the best social experience synonymous with the Durban July. 

Over 30 000 people are expected to make their way to Greyville Racecourse in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The timeous lifting of lockdown regulations is a welcome relief for event organisers and Durban tourism. The eThekwini tourism region is expecting a significant boost to the economy, hosting a number of satellite events to coincide with the central horse racing event. 

Over the years, the Durban July has gained recognition for putting South African racing on the international map, showcasing the country’s standard of thoroughbreds. Held every first Saturday of July since 1897, this premium horse racing event has a history of having big money at stake. That first running in 1897 was contested for a prize of 500 sovereigns, which was a lot of money in those times. From 2016 to 2019, the big race was contested for a stake of R4.25-million but reduced to R1.5-million for 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year the stake increased to R2-million, and the stars will race for a stake of R5-million this year. 

Although many will attend the event in Africa for the fashion and music, the real stars of the race are the thoroughbreds. Apprentice jockey Rachel Venniker was booked to ride Red Saxon for trainer Joe Soma, and in the process become the first woman to ride the July, until tragedy struck on Monday 20 June 2022 when Venniker’s horse (Kileigh’s Fate) fly jumped. The freak accident caused Venniker to suffer a concussion and get sidelined for at least 10 days. Venniker’s mentor and trainer Michael Roberts told reporters recently that, apart from the concussion, she is in good shape. She hasn’t suffered any fractures and has not been hospitalised. 

This years’ Durban July promises to have all the glitz and glamour sorely missed in the last two years. Performing on the main stage are Blxckie, Nomfundo Moh, DJ Vuma, Dladla Mshunqisi and many more. July fever will be in full swing as race goers enjoy the VIP marquee experience provided by Fact Durban Rocks, Boomtown, Pegasus Lounge and many other companies.

Accompanying the music will be the unforgettable fashion the Durban July is now famous for. This year’s theme is “Show Me The Honey”. Racegoers are invited to show off their designer garments and enter the Hollywoodbets Raceday Fashion Competition, where they stand a chance to win cash prizes. The competition is open to the public and entrants must have a valid ticket. 

The first of the four categories is for the most striking couple and the winning couple will receive R5 000 and a R2 500 gift card from Gateway shopping centre. The other categories in the fashion competition are classic racewear female, classic racewear male and exceptional hat or fascinator. Judging will begin at midday near the main stage in the Infield Public Village at the racecourse. 

The Durban Fashion Experience presented by the Durban Fashion Fair is hosting a showcase of invited designers. Five designers are set to present a distinct and individual interpretation of the theme and are required to design a small collection that consists of a showstopper for an individual and a raceday ensemble for a couple. Showcasing their designs this year are Leigh Schubert, Sandile “Duke” Mngadi, Kathrin Kidger, Lara Klawikowski, Karen Monk-Klijnstra and Zamakhosi Mathe. There are numerous fashion events to look forward to on the day such as the Durban July Young Designer Award, where students from colleges across KwaZulu-Natal will be judged for their original and unique designs in accordance with this year’s theme. 
Visitors to the magnificent city of Durban are invited to use this event and the July holidays to experience the hotels, restaurants and various amenities the city has to offer. For a full list of hospitality packages and ticket sales to the 2022 Hollywoodbets Durban July visit: https://www.hollywoodbetsdurbanjuly.co.za.

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Gugulethu Tshabalala
Gugulethu Tshabalala, is a multi-talented creative and jewellery designer with a background in public relations. She believes there is an artist in all of us and hopes to evoke emotion utilising different mediums.

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