Despite the unfortunate drama at the start, the 2019 Vodacom Durban July at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday will go down as the major feature raceday that may just have raised the bar for future racing occasions.
While the Sun Met and Summer Cup have their own unique allure and character, Gold Circle and their sponsors, together with a late injection of high-powered adrenaline from new KZN racecourse partners Hollywoodbets, outshone anything we have experienced in recent years.
The weather played ball, the July field was the best quality overall in many a long year, the Pick 6 pool soared to new records, and even the Saftote website stuck with the pace. We didn’t field one tote related complaint – a break in a tradition that has been a part of life on every major raceday in recent memory.
With a capacity crowd on-course, the event underscored an economic injection worth around R300 million for the regional economy. Up to 40% of the crowd travelled into KwaZulu-Natal for the weekend, most of them from Gauteng.
Up in that province, and out in the cold as his colleagues mixed it with the not so rich and famous at Greyville, Turffontein racecaller Alistair Cohen chirped that ‘July In Jozi sure works – I don’t quite know why!’ The away venue was again supported with enthusiasm by the locals who either didn’t boast the wanderlust or the cash to travel down to Durbs.
There were horses too. A dramatic last minute scratching of the race favourite Hawaam opened the door for 2018 winner Do It Again to become the fifth horse in the 123 years of the July to win back-to-back when he stormed home at a pumping and vibrant Hollywoodbets Greyville.
Switching channels between Tellytrack and Supersport was also an interesting view into the day.
Despite the Tellytrack presenters making the inevitable faux pas – not pronouncing relatively simple names like Captain Of Tortuga properly, suggesting the KZN Yearling Sale Million was for ‘KZN bred’ horses – the overall presentation was polished – with Neil Andrews and the long missing-in-action Rouvaun Smit the consummate Supersport professionals on channel 210, supported by in-house stalwarts Warren Lenferna and Kevin Shea on 239.
Andrews and Smit’s fluid interviews and frank psychological observations about, amongst other aspects, the nervous Warren Kennedy and Gareth Wright in the July jockey intro’s, was also refreshing.
Lenferna’s emotional (did he miss the Pick 6, maybe?) late evening outporing of his pride to be part of the team that put it all together was also a really nice human touch in a world of overkill plastic clichés and boring personalities, who spew forth the same old, same old every time they appear on-screen.
Commentator and one-time anti-barrier trial activist Craig Peters introduced the jockeys and called his 34th July – and, once again, ‘Eagle Eye’ didn’t miss a beat on Supersport as he painted the picture and lifted the crowd as the stars stormed to the line. His son Sheldon called the race on course.
Revellers, punters and fashionistas were entertained throughout the day with fashion taking centre stage for most of the morning at the Lakes Lifestyle Village.
Makhosazane Ntshangase walked away with two fashion awards during the day.
She was the designer selected out of hundreds of initial applicants to win the 2019 Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award presented by Durban Fashion Fair award for her baby zebra inspired design.
In the other raceday fashion competitions, the amount of entrants was substantial as the designers showcased their take on the theme ‘Stars of Africa’.
In the Classic Racewear for Women, Nompumalelo finished behind Ntshangase in second while Brenda Wearing was third.
The Classic Racewear for Men prize went to Motho Ngema with Senzo finishing second and M-Shade collecting the first of his two podium finishes.
Lindo Mathebulo created the outfit that was judged to be the best in the Most Striking Couple category. She beat Pregasen Govender and M-Shade who finished second and third respectively.
In the Exceptional Raceday Hat or Fascinator category it was Zandile Masondo, who dominated for the fourth time, winning first and second prize for her creations while Nana took home the third prize.
VODACOM DURBAN JULY YOUNG DESIGNER AWARDS PRESENTED BY DURBAN FASHION FAIR RESULTS
1.Makhosazane Ntshangase (Lindiwe Kuzwayo Academy)
2.Siphiwo Treasure Buthelezi (DUT)
3.Tanyaradzwa Tirivanhu (DUT)
VODACOM DURBAN JULY RACEDAY FASHION COMPETITIONS
Classic Racewear Women
Classic Racewear Men
Most Striking Couple (pictured above Gameplan/ Andrew Grote)
Exceptional Raceday Hat or Fascinator
Oh, what a day – we already have 2020 vision!