A Blooming Great Day at The Durban July
Saturday, July 31st sees the running of the Vodacom Durban July. This famous horse race has taken place since July 1897 (that’s 113 years!) and has grown from humble beginnings at the Durban Turf Club with only seven runners to what it is now; Africa’s greatest sporting and social event with a purse of R3 million. Over 50 000 people descend on Greyville Racecourse to take part in the festivities; R190 million is spent on nationwide betting with R36 million on the main race of the day!
By 1904 the number of runners and increased from seven to 19 and the annual event soon started to draw interest from around the country with spectators arriving by trams and horse-drawn carriages. Horses were still only drawn from stables in the Natal Colony but by 1918 horses were transported from the Cape and the Rand to make the July a national event.
By the late 1920’s, crowds had increased to 30 000 and race day became an important event on the social calendar; the fashion side of the July was born! Beautiful fashions and glamorous women are all part and parcel of the spectacle that is the Vodacom Durban July with most race goers dressing up to the theme for the year. The 2010 theme is ‘It’s a Blooming Great Day’ – I’m sure there will be many a creative take on a great blooming theme! There are also various competitions for with awards for Young Designers and Extraordinary Hats!
There are currently 12 races on the day with the best horses in the country competing. Twenty runners compete in the main race; storming around the 2200m course in just over 120 seconds all the while spurred on by the crowd!
Of course every great party has to have an even better after party and this year the Official 5FM Durban July Afterparty will be held at the DLI Hall (within the Greyville Race Track) – a venue that is capable of holding up to 8000 party goers. Various 5FM DJ’s will entertain the crowd … this is perhaps something that didn’t happen back in 1897 when the July first began!
So, even if you haven’t been lucky enough to get a ticket to Greyville, perhaps place a bet on a horse and be part of Africa’s most famous horse race that way.