FILE PHOTO: Past Master Jockeyed by Gerrit Schlechter and trained by Darryl Hodgson and Dan Katz crossed the line first, beating out Mother Russia (2nd) to win the J&B Met at the J&B Met 2011 Race at Kenilworth Racecourse - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Cape Town - The Cape’s oldest and most hotly anticipated horse race, the J&B Met, is expected to generate a whopping R58 million for the province’s economy.

The country’s top racehorses will compete for a stake of R2.5m while about 50 000 guests are expected to descend on Kenilworth Racecourse in their finery for the glamorous spectacle on February 2.

This year the Met celebrates its 36th anniversary.

Grant Pascoe, the mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, said the event was “one of Cape Town’s biggest, drawing the elite of the country’s fashion industry, punters and celebrities, and is a boost for domestic tourism”.

“It also speaks to Cape Town’s versatility as a location, a key quality in positioning the city as Africa’s events capital,” he added.

He said February was one of the busiest months in Cape Town and the event drew many international tourists as well as international participants who usually travelled with a group.

“As the number of participants continue to grow, so will the number of foreign guests.”

He said there would be a spike at accommodation establishments in the city.

“There’s also a spread across the sector - we find that stretches from the high-end luxury hotels to the small bed-and-breakfasts.”

Pascoe added that a recent assessment by Cape Town Routes Unlimited showed the Met had a R6.9m economic impact, through direct spending and accommodation costs.

Wesgro chief executive Nils Flatten said R58m was expected to be spent on domestic flights, catering, fashion and other features of the Met.

This included money spent by people coming into the city, on transport and hospitality.

An estimated R14m would be spent on fashion for the event.

“The first thing to note is that it’s the heart of destination marketing - the physical features of the destination. We want to market it globally, we want to prove we can host a global event,” he said.

The Met would also have spin-offs for the horse breeding sector, including the creation of a lot of jobs.

Flatten said last year, R300m was made from horses sold at the Cape yearling sale.

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism chief executive, said a number of tour operators put together short city break packages around the event each year, partnering with airlines and accommodation establishments, around the event each year.

These packages were reported to be selling well.

“The J&B Met is a signature lifestyle event on Cape Town’s annual event calendar, bringing visitors from across the country to Cape Town for a glamorous day at the track...

“The hosting of this event in Cape Town positions the city as a fun, creative and stylish leisure destination for domestic travellers.”

Here are some facts on the J&B Met:

* 16 – The number of horses taking part in the race

* 2 000m – The distance they run

* 50 000 – The number of people expected at Kenilworth Racecourse

* 2 500 – The number of guests expected at the J&B Met Hospitality Village and picnic spots

* 5 – The number of different parking areas in a 1km radius of the racecourse

* +-20 000 – Number of vehicles to bring spectators to the Met

* 600 – Individual stores that participate in the branding promotion for the Met in Cape Town, Joburg and Durban

* 2.5m - The stake for the oldest horse race in the country

* 36 - Number of years J&B sponsored the event

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Cape Argus