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The Vodacom Durban July is a remarkable day on the South African sports calender. Whether you are a once-a-year punter or a regular at the Tote or bookmakers, one of the country’s so-called A-list, or someone who just loves racing, the July is for everyone.
At Greyville tomorrow, more than 50 000 from every social bracket will gather for the 116th running of a race that is steeped in tradition, an event of dreams and nightmares, tears of joy and tragedy. The July has seen it all in more than a century of action.
Besides its special contribution to racing in South Africa, the day is also a bonanza for the hospitality industry as hotels, restaurants and tourism in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal cash in. This is Durban’s chance to show off the playground province, and how capable we are of staging a spectacular production.
The July has survived two world wars and has not missed a year. Favourites taking the honours, outsiders upsetting the odds, photo finishes, upheld objections, punters making and losing fortunes – every year has its own tale.
Rain heading Durban’s way into the evening will not dampen spirits, therefore. Nor will it deter those frisky stallions as they line up for the unofficial 13th race over the last 100m of the track after 8pm.
Tomorrow, amid the buzz at Tent Town and on the main stand, the name “Jackson” will be on the lips of most. For this is the horse – the Daily News 2000 winner, we should add – which will start as one of the biggest favourites in years, despite an unfavourable draw.
But wherever he finishes, and however the race pans out, this is a day for finery and fun. It is time to socialise, view the elegant and outrageous fashions, and pick carefully in trying to crack the Pick Six or place accumulator.
Whether you are going or watching at home, enjoy the glamour – and the racing!