The Cape Racing renaissance has unfolded at a frenetic pace in the fourteen months since South African horseracing’s largest corporate financial transaction first saw the light of day.
It was announced recently that the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board approved the acquisition of Kenilworth Racing (Pty) Ltd by Hollywood Sportsbook Holdings (Pty) Limited on 31 October 2023.
Cape Racing is now a proudly wholly-owned subsidiary of South Africa’s leading sportsbook operator Hollywoodbets, and innovation and changes in personnel, philosophy, policy and bricks and mortar, are well advanced following the approval of the underlying transaction by the Competition Commission in April of this year.
The Sporting Post was treated to a site visit hosted by Cape Racing Chairman Greg Bortz last week, and while the photographs and a personal visit will inevitably always best tell the story, all we can say is that we had our literal collective breath taken away.
The alterations and changes are probably only 60% complete.
Veteran racing administrator Graeme Hawkins, who joined us on the tour – along with journalist Gary Lemke – called his first race at the Southern Suburbs track back in 1977 and kept taking wrong turns – such is the enormity of the changes inflicted by the Bortz Bomb that has rocked local racing!
From the biggest outside broadcast infield screen in Africa, to a new look public and owner experience and pure convenience, Flemington-style wrought iron arches, and a 1st,2nd,3rd pride of place at the front-of-house winner’s enclosure, the electrifying visual impact of thoroughbreds on the turf are now a part of the show, with substantial architectural changes opening the building up to light and senses.
The new entrance is starting to look more like a five-star hotel foyer, with television screens everywhere, and a stunning mural at the rear of the main grandstand lift shaft, changing the old feel of a home affairs waiting-room, to a genuinely hospitable entertainment – with a stylish vibe to match.
There are the new grandstand chairs, substantial changes to the private suite area, new kitchens everywhere, including apparently Chef Ruben, and even the new running rails are on the water.
One needs a team of short-hand scribes on a tour with the Renaissance Man that is Mr Bortz.
The entrepreneur greets all of the 400 plus odd construction guys on site, sorts out minor plumbing issues, and rattles at the rate of knots as he answers our questions about the new saddling area, high-tech security, parking, and plans for a leading family steak-house chain, restaurants, paddle courts, retailers and ICC style arenas to host thoroughbred sales, and maybe the likes of Coldplay and Bryan Adams.
We haven’t mentioned the rest of the changes as it’s near impossible to take it all in.
While there are bound to be teething issues – it’s a work in progress and features like the new state of the art sound equipment can only be truly tested in real time – why not pop in to Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Sunday and see it for yourself?
Ed update – here’s a shot on Wednesday afternoon:
The first is off at 12h20.