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The Durban July, 126 years later, has stood the test of time

A snap of the Hollywoodbets Durban July Gallops at the Hollybets Greyville Racecourse

File. The Durban July Handicap, as the race was first known, made its debut on Saturday, July 17, 1897, at the Greyville Racecourse in Durban. Picture: Candiese Lenferna Photography

Published Jun 30, 2023


The Hollywoodbets Durban July, internationally acknowledged as Africa's greatest horseracing event, has stood the test of time.

The Durban July Handicap, as the race was first known, made its debut on Saturday, July 17, 1897, at the Greyville Racecourse in Durban.

Since then, it has been run without interruption every year, even during the world wars. The race was first run for a stake of 500 sovereigns. Today, the stake is R5m.

By this time, 126 years later, the economic implications of the Durban July are nothing short of remarkable. On Saturday’s race day, a capacity crowd of up to 48 000 people, will flock through Greyville's gates.

The event will inject about R65 million into the eThekwini Municipality’s economy. Apart from the

direct spend of R65m, it will also be injecting a staggering R130m into the GDP.

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda says the event is set to create 1,500 job opportunities and offers a glimmer of hope and prosperity to the local community.

There has been some rain around the Durban area of late, but Saturday’s forecast is “brilliant sunshine and a pleasant 22 degrees with very little wind”.

This year’s theme is “Out Of This World” and against this background, you can expect Saturday’ to be a blast for racing fans, party-goers, fashion aficionados and celebrity guests alike.

Many tourists will be travelling from far and wide to be in Durban on the day.

Cape Town trainer Justin Snaith, with five runners in the 18-horse field, holds a strong hand in this year's Grade 1 event.

The race will have an international flavour with trainer Mike de Kock engaging French champion jockey, Christophe Soumillon, to ride Safe Passage, a close-up second to Puerto Manzano in the recent G1 Betway Summer Cup.

Bernard Fayde’Herbe, with a riding infraction hanging over his head in Mauritius, has been given the green light to partner Pomp And Power for Snaith.

Snaith also saddles veteran and twice winner of the race, Do It Again, who completed his preparation in the recent Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge. This will be his record sixth run in the race, and Gavin Lerena, successful on Kommetdieding in 2020, will be aboard.


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