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Durbanville Goes Green

St Patrick’s Day At The Races

Durbanville (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

The Irish religious feast day of St Patrick’s Day, held to commemorate the death of Ireland’s Patron saint, has been observed in Ireland since the 9th or 10th century.

The history stuff

Legend, well, Wikipedia, has it that St Patrick (allegedly named Maewyn Succat) was born in Roman England sometime in the fifth century. Kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16, he either escaped or was released and returned to England where he became a priest, changing his name to Patricius, a derivative of the Latin term for ‘father figure’. He then returned to Ireland to minister to the pagan populace.

It seems that St Patrick had a lot of success in converting the Druid culture to Christianity. His success, ascribed to being lucky, is one theory behind the green, Shamrock theme we are used to seeing today. Another popular legend is that St Patrick used the three leaves of the native Irish clover as a way to explain the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century, held on 17 March to commemorate St Patrick’s death on that day in 461. Although the date meant it fell during the traditional period of Lent, the restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, fostering the tradition of celebration.

The tradition of using the day as a celebration of Irish culture seems to have originated in America in 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English army marched through New York City. The day is now observed annually across the globe in many different guises with each adding their own particular slant on it.

Why Beer?

The Chicago River turns green for St Patrick's Day (photo: Wikipedia)

The Chicago River turns green for St Patrick’s Day (photo: Wikipedia)

Thanks to a Budweiser marketing campaign in the 1980’s, downing beer has become a common way to celebrate the day, with some going as far as dying the beer green. In Chicago, it has become an annual tradition to dye the Chicago River green by releasing green vegetable dye into the water. Each to their own!

So in addition to being a celebration of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, St Patrick’s day is now seen as a more broad celebration of Irish culture, as well as just a good excuse to dress up in green, drink beer and generally have a good time.

Suffice to say, in true Irish spirit, the day, as well as the reasons for celebrating it, are open to interpretation, but what is certain is that it has become an excuse for a celebration – and who doesn’t need a little more of that?

The Rub Of The Green

With its connotations of luck and its association with the Irish and, in turn, their ancient association with the horse, St Patrick’s Day is the perfect fit for a day of fun at the races, so Luella Robinson and the Kenilworth Racing Team have joined forces to put together the first St Patrick’s Day Student race day at Durbanville on Saturday, 17 March 2018. Ta-daaaaaa !

Mike and Luella Robinson of the Philippi-based Mike Robinson Racing team, are based in Paarl, making Durbanville’s country track their ‘local’ racing venue. With the recent refurb and the success of the New Year’s Day and Twilight Meetings, a chance discussion on how to optimise the venue as well as how to market the sport to a younger audience threw up the idea of a student day.

“As Stellenbosch is our closest University and they have a student body of 31,000, I approached them and was put in contact with the Chairperson of a number of their student societies,” says Luella. “They are very enthusiastic about the idea. It’s the University’s centenary year, which makes it even more fun and it turns out they even have a gentleman’s club who have a day at the races as one of their recommended activities!”

“I checked the calendar to see what big days, events or festivals might be happening around that time and came up with St Patrick’s Day. It happens to be a good time for the students as it is a quiet period just before they start exams, so it’s perfect.”

Putting It Together

St Patrick's Day PosterThe whole team have pitched in with ideas and contacts to make the day as easy and user-friendly as possible. In the interests of responsible driving, to help get the students from A to B (and back again), HG Travel will be laying on shuttle busses from Stellenbosch at a cost of R20 for the round trip, with the first 2,500 passengers receiving a complimentary R10 betting voucher, courtesy of Betting World. The first bus will be leaving Stellenbosch at 10:30am and they will depart at regular intervals after that.

In addition to the action on track, there will be live music from Adriaan Krause, and the Stomers vs Crusaders rugby game will also be televised live on course. In the spirit of keeping things local, to keep things festive, well-known producer KWV have come on board for the day and will be offering white wine at R48 / bottle, red wine at R60 / bottle, bubbly at cellar prices and re-usable coolers and ice at R30 each.

Paarl’s Cape Brewing Company (CBC) will be joining KWV on course offering a selection of craft beer at a very student-friendly R30 / 500ml and they are joining forces with Ralph’s on-course catering to put together a beer and burger combo, to keep everyone fuelled for the day’s racing. For those who prefer something a little more sophisticated, the members’ areas will be offering a full, St Patrick’s Day themed buffet, available all day at R245 a head.

There will be plenty of prizes up for grabs, with top billing going to a two night stay at Mykonos, courtesy of HG Travel. There will also be beer hampers from CBC for the winner of the ‘pour a perfect draft’ competition, a tour of Avontuur Stud Farm and a student competition for the best St Patrick’s Day outfit with the prospect of an invitation to one of their sought-after student events (usually by invitation only) on offer.

Promoting The Event (yay!)

Jock, Luella and CBC's Christo Jacobs (photo: Michael Robinson)

Jock, Luella and CBC’s Christo Jacobs (photo: Michael Robinson)

The team have all rolled up their sleeves and conjured up posters to distribute across local shops and hot spots across Durbanville, there are interviews on Bok Radio and Mike and Luella even teamed up with CBC’s Christo Jacobs to put together a photo shoot as a bit of fun to help promote the day – and to test the CBC offering – strictly for quality control purposes, naturally! Huge thanks to Viv Woollen for the loan of her gorgeous horse Jock (also seen in action at last year’s ‘Jumping Jockeys’ fundraiser). The CBC team will have a selection of three different craft beers to choose from and Luella confirms that they are all delicious.

The day’s racing offers an eight race card, including a crowd-pleasing 2400m stayers’ event programmed for visitors to get up close and personal with the horses, the jockeys and the noise and excitement of a field of horses being loaded and sent off under starters’ orders.


“We are really hoping for a fantastic day out,” continues Luella. “The racecourse is a feature on the Durbanville landscape and it would be great to see the local community use and support it more often, so I thought ‘let’s do something’. It’s our local track and we love it. It’s fun, it’s friendly, it’s easily accessible and what better way to introduce people to racing right on their own doorstep? There are plenty of jockeys who live in Durbanville and we’ve spent all this money on doing up the track, so now we must use it! We might not have the budget for a huge race day like the Met or Queen’s Plate, but you’ve got to start somewhere and everyone’s pulled together to make something really special. It’s an opportunity to do something different and try and get some new faces on course and who knows, with a bit of luck, it would be great to see this build into an annual event.

Anyone who feels wearing green at the racecourse is unlucky might want to give the meeting a miss, but if you aren’t superstitious, why not come down and support our local racing?

Gates open at 11am and entry is free!

Have Your Say

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9 comments on “Durbanville Goes Green

  1. Luella Robinson says:

    ANOTHER BRILLIANT article thank you Robyn Louw, as you keep things fresh and exactly how it is from the horse’s mouth! We are expecting a big crowd and soooooooooo excited to try and make this an Annual Event!

  2. Luella Robinson says:

    Please can you add to your headlines that I am no longer involved with the Students Day at Durbanville, as I have no support from the Kenilworth Crew! I personally went and printed out small flyers and distributed 500 of them to students on Campus today……….yet they haven’t bothered to organize bus tickets at the University to sell bus tickets, and HG Travel are very upset about this too! I came up with the idea of St. Patrick’s Day, and they are now having one at Turffontein thanks to my idea, plus they had a Craft Beer and Gin Day thanks to my ideas! I’m done and cannot work with incompetent people that don’t have a driving force! Mike and I have a business to run and we are going to make it in this industry!

    1. Lynne Hampson says:

      It’s just such a stunning venue! My personal favourite of all courses. It lends itself to so much!
      Well done on your efforts Luella and Mike. Hope its an amazing day. Will be watching!
      Break a leg!

  3. Luella Robinson says:

    Another thing……..I have sacrificed family time to try and make Racing amazing at Durbanville Racecourse but if I don’t have the support then who will grant this support? Donna from RIAR has been AMAZING and I have to commend her on her hard work as she is a driving force!

  4. Vikingking says:

    Luella – your involvement recently in the revitalization of the Durbanville Racing community has not gone unnoticed . To that I applaud you and your family for all the support and hard work.

    However from the start of the season with the new track , your ideas and enthusiasm , were always going to be in line to be hurt and dissapointed. Reading the above article during the week it always sounded to good to be true , although you had most bases covered .

    As stated before Racing Its A Rush must be the most costly excersice in the history of horse Racing . Useless is being polite to use as an adjective.

    Your example of the Gin and Beer day at Turfontein was a total flop . Dont let anyone tell you any different . My family and I attended and it was a disgrace and a total waste of time for the vendors and stalls. An example of great effort made was a stall called Unbridled , They must have spent thousand on the pop up shop and stock . If they sold 10 product the whole day I will be surprised.

    However where was Racing Its A Rush – in their VIP Lounge – they had a DJ that pumped music in between races that no one could here the interviews or trying to eat their meals on the Deck. Why did they not close this so called lounge and send all their guests to the Market to enjoy the Gin and Craft beer. Or are these so called Young Guns or Young Generation just not into that.

    They dont seem to be into to much , you dont see them at the sales , you dont see them at the training tracks and you certainly dont see them leading in winners .

    The bottom line is that although you are upset and I feel for you. You are a member of the NHA and the RA – the only way is to vote out these useless boards, that are only destroying our beautiful sport.

    Dont forget they cut down 100 year old trees for a few days racing a year. Your feelings are minor.

  5. Jurgs says:

    Kenilworth racing hang your heads in shame.

    1. Luella says:

      Thank you for your support!

  6. Luella Robinson says:

    It was a stunning cool afternoon at Durbanville Racecourse yesterday! Sadly there were only 2 1/2 waiters/waitresses on duty as they were taking shifts on a coffee break, and the client sitting with us had to shamefully order and collect his own drinks as they were on a coffee break! Nevertheless, not one poster was put up in the buildings to promote next Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Raceday! This is why I say, I cannot do EVERYTHING on my own…….the posters are sitting at Kenilworth Racecourse on display, yet Racing is currently at Durbanville! I personally requested about 12 Days ago that they change the times for Racing on the 17th, as gates open at 11am and the first race is at 2:30pm! Am I incorrect in requesting this or is it not just common knowledge? It is sooooooooooo sad as I have REALLY tried my best to get the crowds there! They don’t even have the bus tickets for purchase at Stellenbosch University, as I requested…….as they are waiting on numbers………students are NOT going to go back twice to purchase a bus ticket…….surely it’s common sense!
    There was also an advert in the Computaform yesterday and they have left out the logo of HG Travel, and they are giving away the biggest prize for draws for a two night stay at Mykonos!

    Lynne and Vikingking, thank you for your feedbacks, and I am dying to get things up and running but Phumelela and Kenilworth Racing need to see this, and they need someone who understands Racing and do things PROPERLY!

  7. Chris Swart says:

    Yet a great deal of money is spent in Johannesburg this week on a brunch that served zero purpose for zero gain.
    Apart from posing for Facebook pictures what was tabled, minuted and who’s going to act on the ideas

    Let me see

    The last brilliant idea was The Achiever

    That kept students and young achievers enthralled before being thrashed four times in a few months and the idea canned.

    Good idea bad result. Why?

    If you give people a sour experience from the first taste, they’re not going to dine on BS again.

    A good trainer will tell you to cut your losses in months. This debacle went on for months and months.
    Who was held to account

    As for copying your intellectual knowledge, don’t feel alone. After everything David Safi invested at his own expense his idea was stolen, destroyed and duplicated.

    One supplier that’s paid 150k a month can’t spell Johannesburg in his still under construction website that has no address and can’t spell Turffontein either.

    It’s rotten everywhere

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