Horse racing has had a long history throughout South Africa. Records show that the first official horse race began in 1797 and just 5 years later in 1802 the first club meeting took place. Durban is most famous for the “Durban July Handicap” which attracts a massive crowd. This famous race has been ongoing since 1897 on the same track known as Greyville racecourse Course. Greyville, known to be the largest racing event in all of Africa and the betting can reach hundreds of millions of rands (the official currency of South Africa).
Durban is not the only famous city to hold significant races throughout South Africa. Cape Town is home to “Kenilworth” and Johannesburg holds events at the “Turffontein Race Course”. The “Summer Cup” at Johannesburg has a prize reward for first place at R1.2 million rand.
Other Tracks of South Africa
Arlington (Port Elizabeth)–The track runs the “East Cape Derby Gr3”. The course is a fast and a quick run with the sharpness and unevenness of the entire track it is a sight to see.
Fairview (Port Elizabeth)–The track is a right-handed course with slow drainage. In adverse weather Fairview can be a messy track for the horses. The start off is slightly downhill so the beginning of the race is fast paced and exciting to see.
Vaal (Viljoensdrif)–Home to a large 1000m straight away course with sharp curves at each end. Vaal is also famous for the area’s only 1600m straight run.
Newmarket (Johannesburg)–Home to a popular casino. The high mark races from this course include “Gauteng Racehorse Owners Association Handicap”, “Gerald Rosenberg Handicap”, “Newmarket Turf Club WFA” and “The Premier Handicap”.
Turffontein (Johannesburg)–Track was refurbished and is now one of only a handful offering night races in South Africa. This course high mark races include “Group One South African Derby” and the November’s “Summer Cup”.
Greyville Turf Club (Durban)–First and longest running sports event in the area. This is the crucial one for the novice and elite alike. Watch the multiple events race from daylight to night time, it is here for all to see.
Scottsville (Pietermaritzburg)–Just next to the Golden Horse Casino. The track holds 50 races a year and is a hot spot for anyone into racing and fun at the Casino.
Flamingo Park (Kimberley)–This is one of South Africa’s only sand course tracks. Horse racing is an art in itself as often some horses who have won at this course do not show well on grass or turf tracks. A unique course and one worth experiencing as it is like no other around.
Durbansville (Cape Town)–The track is a left-handed traditional course. Course also contains a small but entertaining casino on grounds.
Kenilworth (Cape Town)–This is another left-handed track. It is unique in many ways as it consists of 3 separate tracks within one. One old, one new and a long straight track. Some of the best racing in South Africa is on this course. The new track is one of the fairest courses for all types of racing.
Graham Jenkins has spent too much of his time betting and losing on the horses. He was always told to visit South Africa by friends and fellow horse lovers. He was amazed at the beauty of the country and the love of horse racing that the locals shared with him.
Photo Credit: blog.summerhill.co.za