The Most Famous Horse Racing Events in South Africa

8 September 2020 |

Horse Racing Events are the most glamorous social events on South Africa’s calendar. They are the ultimate excuse to dress to impress, and an exciting day for punters and bookies. You’ll see the cream of the crop show up to these days – both equine and human. Celebrities, style trendsetters, socialites, and influencers flock to race days to enjoy the atmosphere and seize their share of the limelight. Racegoers from all over the world fly in to attend them. Here are the horse racing events South Africa is best known for.

The Vodacom Durban July

If it weren’t for the thoroughbreds parading in the paddocks and thundering down the gruelling 2200 metre track, one might mistake the Durban July for a fashion event. The race day draws in thousands of impeccably dressed attendees. Everyone is coming for the themed fashion competitions, shows and the chance to show off their ensembles.

The Durban July is more than a horse racing event. It is internationally recognised as the greatest race day in Africa. Held at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse in Durban, it’s a showcase of SA’s top-performing thoroughbreds and a spectacle to behold on both the racing and fashion front.

The Durban July has taken place annually without fail since the very first race day 124 years ago. It was no different this year despite the pandemic, which has caused many major sporting events to cancel. The stands were missing the usual throngs of spectators in 2020. Nevertheless the races featuring the country’s top-performing racehorses went ahead as planned.

The Gauteng Summer Cup

Since its inception in 1887 the Gauteng Summer Cup has grown to be the largest, glitziest annual horse racing event in the province. It is very special due to a number of factors. Firstly, it is the only horse racing day with a halftime show. Secondly, there is R2 million in prize money up for grabs. Plus, it has been rebranded the People’s Race due to its diverse entertainment offerings and inclusivity.

The Grade 1 racing event takes place at Turrfontein Racecourse every year. It offers a programme of 12 races, including five group races. These are all run on a course of 2000 metres, a distance that requires speed and stamina.

Of the country’s major horse races, the Summer Cup is the only one that welcomes children. It offers family entertainment, including a carnival with a Ferris wheel and a Family Zone.

Along with the electrifying race line-up, spectators can also enjoy the fashion shows, silent disco, music, and dance performances and more at Joburg’s oldest horse race.

The Sun Met

The Sun Met, run every year at Kenilworth Racecourse, is one of Cape Town’s favourite summer events. It is known as Africa’s Richest Race Day and lives up to this moniker. The winner of the primary race takes home R3 million in prize money.

Fifty-thousand racegoers showed up at the 158th Sun Met in February this year to spectate, bet and revel in the fashion and elegance of the event. Along with the fashion showcases and races, another drawcard of the Sun Met is the music entertainment and dancing, which particularly takes off after the sun goes down.

The Sun Met, which initially had the name the Metropolitan Mile, began as a race run on a mile-long track in Green Point. It was first run in 1883.
The length of the race was extended to its current 2000 metres in 1948.

The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate

Another highlight on Cape Town’s horse racing calendar, the Queen’s Plate is an immensely popular social affair. It’s all about class, hats, and a strict blue and white dress code. Like the Sun Met, it’s held at Kenilworth Racecourse and ends in a huge afterparty.

First run in 1861, the Queen’s Plate is Africa’s oldest horse racing event. The prize for the first race day was 500 sovereigns and a silver plate from Queen Victoria, explaining the event’s name.

Now, the event has a purse of R1.5 million. Live jazz, photo opportunities, best-dressed competitions and champagne flutes are as big on the agenda as the horse races.

With sponsors like Cartier and BMW, it’s obvious that the event’s sophistication has not gone unnoticed internationally. If anything, it’s worth going to witness the sea of blue and white.

Betting on the top horse racing events in South Africa

Even if we can’t make it to the races ourselves, we all love to place bets during these top 3 events. Many bookmakers feature special offers. Have a look at our top online betting sites for horse racing to find your best deal.

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