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Hooked On The Prawns

A fantastic Prawn Festival raceday

A few weeks ago I wrote to the Argus about the diabolical SunMet raceday, and criticised Kenilworth Racing and Sun International for an underwhelming and poorly attended SunMet.

But this week I have to compliment Kenilworth Racing and their sponsor Vasco Taverna for a fun-filled and pleasurable Prawn Festival raceday, writes Michael Jacobs in the Sporting Post Mailbag.

Part of the happy crowd last Saturday (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Compared to the SunMet and L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate which was elitist, over-priced and sidelined the ordinary people and regular racegoers, the Vasco Taverna Prawn Festival was a breath of fresh air, and welcomed all and sundry, from the Cape Flats to Constantia!

Everybody’s taste was catered for and we enjoyed the prawns, the food trucks, the Summer market and of course the horseracing.

The racecourse was filled with families and racegoers, with plentiful umbrellas and seating for everyone, compared to Met day.

The sponsor also had spot prizes and a R20 000 grand prize – and entry was free! This is the way to encourage people to attend racing and to make everyone feel welcome and included.

Compared to the drab SunMet and Queen’s Plate, I am sure that the Prawn Festival will become the flagship racemeeting of the Cape Summer racing season.

In the new South Africa horseracing has to embrace diversity and introduce new players and new participants – it cannot be the same old status quo where an elite crew run the show and the masses are on the outside looking in. If our money is good enough to bet with, then our faces should be good enough at the Met and Queens Plate. I think the Prawn Festival did a great job to change that status quo.

Horseracing can return to its former glory and bring back the crowds if the operators make racing inclusive and participatory, and use the big days like the Met, Queen’s Plate, Guineas and Prawn Festival to attract the public and showcase horse racing as an exciting and fun day out.

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13 comments on “Hooked On The Prawns

  1. Hedley says:

    SunMet Day and Queens Plate Day Need to learn how to make racing really enjoyable.
    Well Done to Brynn and the entire team. I had a day to remember at Kenilworth Race Course.
    That’s how one needs to race.

  2. Knight says:

    You Hit The Nail On The Head;I attended the LQP&The Sun Met and neither one could come close to the atmosphere of Cape Prawn Day.I echo in thanking Vasco Tarverna and the other sponsors for putting on a Great show on the day.My Highlight of the Cape Summer Season(Why must we wait for the last meeting of the season to enjoy a True Race Day)

  3. Rian says:

    I must agree with you Michael 100 percent, and feel we need more representation from all walks of life to come freely and attend race days in these fabulous settings in the Cape
    We could start by getting some sort of Cape Hunt format going and start with Donkeys and Pony races.
    What about even involving the cart horses from the flats and let them strut their stuff with prizes
    The on course vet could even give advise and help sort out any problems
    Lets even try a golfing long driving contest down the Kenilworth straight before the first race
    Anyway looking forward to next years festival

  4. The Dark Duke says:

    Let Phumelela show the on course betting turnover between the three events and let’s guage the success of the day. Dont you Capies have Jimmys Killer Prawns or Ocean Basket? Whatever next? Biltong and drywors day? Pancakes, scones and cake for a high tea day? Not for me but good luck to thise that think getting people in to eat budget prawns signals success.

  5. Steve Reid says:

    Guaging must be a dark side thing but I do agree gauging the betting turnovers will tell a clear story. In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with getting people to the track even if they are unaware of what the facility is utilised for. If they not betting they not in the way so win win for all

  6. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Don’t you lot have Vasco’s ? I have not seen a race sponsored by the companies you mention ? are they horse race owners as well ?…….The funny thing is it gets bigger every year, but lets give the scones and cream a go ? I love the positive outlook you have…..by the way lets see what money the sponsors spent on their days and lets see what the return is on the cost in whatever form……thats how sponsorship works. I bet you if Jimmys’ prawns was to have a race day they would do it every year…….thanks for your input.

  7. Michael Jacobs says:

    Any theme or event to attract people to the course is a good idea, the elitist and arrogant thinking of Steve Reid and Dark Duke notwithstanding! It is stupid to compare the betting turnover as the Met and Queen’s Plate are almost international events with Grade 1 races, the Prawn Festival features are at Grade 3 and lower! Yet the racecourse was fuller and ordinary people arrived in droves! The meeting wss also a week before payday, so what’s the point of comparing betting turnover? Rather ask the operators to measure what was wagered on course on the day and compare that to the other 2 feature days! The set-up on Prawn Festival day was far better, with far more seating, umbrellas and on course activities than in Met and Queens Plate day.

    There are clearly some old era protagonists who are still hankering for the exclusionary days of pre-1994! They need to wake up and smell the manure!

    Mr Brynn Ressel must be complimented for he’s fantastic initiative and he’s magnanimous gesture. He’s brand will certainly grow and gain great repute!

  8. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    I think the formal versus the informal is another way of seeing this. The Vasco is more chilled and the vibe seems to be more tuned to the sponsored race which ties in nicely with the prawns. The Sunmet and Queens plate are a lot more structured so thats the feeling you get, Labels, badges, protocol etc are a lot more prominent. The Vasco is a couple of listed races and the Prix du Cap so easier to tune in. It feels more Cape Town and I know a few overseas mates who look forward to this event, it has a good rep and thats good for its long term health…….maybe not the life of prawns….

  9. Pieta says:

    MJ, I remember pre 1994 racing…..believe me our racecourses were so well supported that you could not find parking..that includes the ones that were sold off since…not sure if you were around then?
    I had a chuckle to myself ….a horse got loose at the Vaal today and the commentator asked the 10-20 folk in the grandstand not to make a noise😂
    We are all grateful for sponsors……but sadly the prawn is not going to save this industry.

  10. Bronson Nassif says:

    Would be interesting to know who’s brainstorming idea the prawn Festival was? From what I’ve seen in the racing industry is that people are quick to take the accolades for a success but not when some events don’t go as planned?

    Would be nice to know who’s idea it actually was so we can congratulate them for such a successful event.

  11. Geoff says:

    Well Done Brynn. Excellent day..

  12. Steve says:

    It was the brainchild of Clyde Basel

  13. Bronson Nassif says:

    Excellent job and well done Clyde Basel! Racing needs people like you

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