/ 6 July 2024

Clash of the ages on Saturday at Durban July as 3-year-olds take on seniors

See It Again Durban July 2024
There will be a return match between last year's winner Winchester Mansion, with Kabela Matsunyane aboard, and runner-up See it Again, who he beat by a nose. Photo by Candiese Lenferna

Greyville Racecourse has been a hive of activity this week in preparation for Africa’s premier horse racing event, the Hollywoodbets Durban July 2024, which is taking place on Saturday and is expected to draw some 65 000 visitors to the city and contribute an estimated R670 million to its GDP.

eThekwini Metro’s Economic Development and Planning Unit chairperson, Thembo Nthuli, said the event would attract more than 45 000 punters, fashionistas and guests, while a further 20 000 people would attend the many side events across the city this weekend.

“The direct spend is estimated at R271 million, with a total of R670 million contribution to the eThekwini GDP, and a total number of 5 000 jobs will be created,” Ntuli said.

He said safety measures have been implemented and metro police, South African Police Service and public order policing units were on high alert to ensure the safety and security of visitors to the city.

“Metro Police officers will be deployed around the Greyville area, working with other law-enforcement agencies. All intersections will be managed for traffic control, with some road closures,” Ntuli said.

Gold Circle marketing and sponsorships executive Steven Marshall said the theme for the event Ride the Wave referred not only to the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean, but also highlighted the “resilience” of the people of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal who had faced the April 2022 floods and the June 2024 tornado in Tongaat.

Marshall said last year the event had been hit by the setback of a power outage that forced the last three races to be cancelled.

“This year, the event organisation team has forged a close collaborative relationship with the green electricity unit, and together, we’ve created an in-depth plan to mitigate what happened last year with multiple backup options in case of any unforeseen circumstances,” Marshall said.

He said fashion was a core pillar of the event, along with hospitality and entertainment.

“It’s fashion that maintains the event’s relevance and keeps it fresh. Every single year, our extensive Hollywoodbets Durban July Fashion Experience, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, features Young Designer Awards, the DFF Rising Stars and our Hollywoodbets Durban July-invited designer showcase,” Marshall said.

Turning to the main horse racing event of the day, Marshall said there would be a return match between last year’s winner Winchester Mansion, with Kabela Matsunyane aboard, and runner-up See it Again, who he beat by a nose.

“See it Again is joined by Royal Victory, as two of our KZN contingent, with a very good chance for a local win. We have very exciting three-year-olds this year and Green with Envy is our ruling favourite for July with our sponsor, Hollywoodbets,” he said.

“Purple Pitcher and Flag Man join him as very good three-year-olds and Oriental Charm, who many feel is a dark horse this year, has also got a very good chance,” Marshall said.

Rachel Venniker will be the first female jockey riding in the event, aboard trainer Justin Snaith’s horse, Without Question.  

“We also have our record-breaking jockey, Richard Fourie, who recently beat the South African record for the number of wins in a single season, and he’s riding Future Swings — so don’t discount that horse either,” Marshall said.

Hollywoodbets Brand and Communications manager, Devin Heffer, said this year’s event was the 128th running of the race.

“It’s one of the only sporting events in the world that’s run uninterrupted over that period. It survived pandemics. It survived world wars. It even survived the Soccer World Cup, when we got moved to the end Saturday of July.

“But this race carries on its incredible legacy — as we know, it’s Africa’s greatest horse racing event,” Heffer said.

He said Mango Groove would perform the national anthem before the running of the main race at 4pm, while a variety of artists and DJ’s would entertain guests throughout the day.

Ntuli said the event is the latest in a string of events hosted in the city recently, including the Comrades Marathon, the House and Garden Show and the Isuzu Ironman.

“Winter-season events hosted in Durban bring much needed economic spin-offs, specifically for the local tourism and hospitality sectors, as well as related value chains,” Ntuli said.

He said a series of township experiences and activations are also lined-up for the July weekend. These include Fact Durban Rocks, eKasi Durban July, Mojo’s July Weekend, eThekwini Jazz Jam, Artizen Durban July and the White Party Lifestyle Excursion.