The fluctuating and diverse fortunes of horseracing in KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape appear to run far deeper than the frivolous popular perception that the Indian population in KZN enjoy their racing more and have more disposable income than their coloured counterparts in the Cape.
In a week that saw Phindi Kema’s Africa Race Group’s appeal against the merger between Kenilworth Horseracing and Western Cape Racing dismissed in the Cape High Court, the concerns about the future of racing in the Western Cape continue to be the subject of vigorous debate. This is against the positive energy flowing through the corridors of power in KZN.
The split between the KZN and Cape regions of Gold Circle was approved by members back in November 2011 and led to the parting of ways, in what was never a happy marriage. The split took effect on 1 April 2012.
Members in the Western Cape agreed to an interim constitution to facilitate the running of the region’s affairs while at the same time Members in KZN also approved a new constitution for Gold Circle and the three former KZN turf clubs, namely the Durban Turf Club, the Clairwood Turf Club and the Pietermaritzburg Turf Club, would be amalgamated into the newly named Gold Circle Racing Club.
The Sunday Argus this past weekend carried a feature story on the excitement and positivity and hype surrounding the refurbishment of the 126 year old Greyville racecourse in the centre of Durban.
It appears that Operation Greyville has taken off and Gold Circle Chairman Robert Mauvis admitted that much out of the box hard thinking had taken place. “We can have the best tracks in the world, great trainers, horses and jockeys, but if people don’t come racing on a regular basis,then what’s the point?” he asked. That makes sense, surely?
The new Greyville artificial track is well on its way and Mauvis suggested it would transform racing as we have known it for the past century:
“Because of the scientifically designed drainage system, horses can race even when it rains. There will also be less pressure on the grass track, where maintenance is always a key issue,” he said.
He said that the next challenge was to change the drab and dreary image of the track and bring on board a new generation of trendy, young and fashionable people. The type that were usually only sighted for the party on July day. A dedicated cycling track was also being constructed and there were plans to implement floodlit golf at the Royal Durban Club. A park and ride facility would be operational from the old Drive In sight.
The intention was also to renovate the Palm Court restaurant in the first half of next year. “Combine racing on our new all weather track, with good food, dancing, music, live bands, views of the city, and a warm ambience, and we believe we can turn Greyville into the hottest spot to be seen in town,” said the well known restauranteur..
The sale of Clairwood and the fact that the Garden Course will cease racing from July next year has meant that Gold Circle have had no choice but to reinvent Greyville. The track will see a doubling of its current meetings to 70 per year, with Scottsville taking over the remaining 30.
The sale of Clairwood has also seen major plans to improve the Summerveld Training facility, and this includes the construction of a Polytrack similar to the one being installed at Greyville.
KwaZulu Natal is the only racing province in South Africa which is not controlled by the listed Phumelela Gaming & Leisure.