Grey’s Inn takes the crown
“Punters clobbered in colourful July!” was the bold headline in this years Sundays’ papers following an epic Vodacom Durban July held at Greyville Racecourse on 3 July where absolute crowd favourite, Yard-Arm, simply failed to live up to expectations.
In the week leading up to race day, money poured in from punters all over the country to ensure that the odds on Yard-Arm were at a steady 8-10 by the start of Africa’s greatest racing event. The three year old gelding had been hailed as a ‘sure-win’ especially considering his perfect draw coupled with an excellent jockey, Mark Khan.
As the nineteen horses stalled up for South Africa’s biggest race of the year, all eyes were fixed on the 2200m course. The gates flew open and Yard-Arm immediately settled into an ideal position behind his stable mate, Cousin John who had taken the lead. The race was panning out perfectly for the thousands of punters who had money riding on the big favourite.
Grand Emporium was the first to challenge Yard-Arm as the field came into the straight and did so successfully as the favorite began to slip off the race-commentators tongue. Greys Inn began a virtuoso run from the rear, gliding up through the field to put himself into an excellent position for the final few hundred meters.
The atmosphere at Greyville over the final 200m was exhilarating! The crowds crammed together as each punter jostled for a position to see the finish. The noise of the horses’ hooves pounding down the straight went up against thunderous cheers and cries of encouragement from the 56000 racegoers gathered at the climax of the race.
Over the final leg, Greys Inn easily raced away from the field to cross the line with an impressive two and a half length lead and win this year’s prestigious R1.5 million Rand Vodacom Durban July.
Jockey, Anthony Delpech triumphantly punched the air as he secured his place in the record books for the second time, as well as claiming a second Vodacom Durban July title for trainer Mike de Kock. Delpech rode Classic flag to victory in 1998 and De Kock trained the 2002 winner, Ipi Tombe.
The battle for second place was a fight to the finish as Superwood, at 40-1, narrowly edged ahead of another outsider, Red Badge, and Otter Trail who finished third and fourth respectively. In the end Yard-Arm could only manage a ninth place.
The 2004 Vodacom Durban July will not only be remembered for another thrilling event on the Greyville track but also for the astonishing off the track fashion extravaganza that yet again engulfed Africa’s greatest horseracing event.
The race day theme of “Over The Rainbow” ensured that fashion critics were not disappointed with this year’s event. The colours were indeed bright and eye-catching and a great amount of work and effort went into the designs strutting around the course.
The warm weather encouraged adventurous designers to flaunt their more daring side with some revealing outfits. Creativity and extravagance were the key as each designer tried dared to outdo one another.
The three pre-race day fashion events sent a clear message that this year’s Vodacom Durban July was set to be a show-stopper – and a show-stopper it was! The Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase, the Fashion Challenge, and the Young Designer Award which were all publicly exhibited and judged on stage on race-day in front of a fashion thirsty crowd.
Local designer, Terence Bray stunned the crowds with his punk red eighties designs which secured him the prestigious title of ‘Overall Winner’ of the Invited Designer Showcase along with the R25000 prize money, a fashionable Samsung E700 VGA cameraphone, and a two night stay at Zimbali Lodge.
Individual category winners in this event were Francois Ved’emme (Race-day Ensemble), Colleen Eitzen (Over-the-top Hat) and Durban designer, Gideon (Showstopper).
The Fashion Challenge competition produced some stunning designs. Amber Weedon won the title, Robyn Farrell took second place and Kathrin Kidger claimed third wearing her own design.
The Young Designer Award went to Kate Siedle while Odysseus and Cheri Greyling picking up second and third spot respectively.
Five race day fashion competitions were also held which were open to all designers at the Vodacom Durban July. The Avant-Garde competition revealed some rather daring and exceptionally creative outfits. The winner, Melanie Rider, won first place in a revealing shimmering blue, bead and wire outfit that took four months to design.
The Most Striking Couple award went to Melissa Wilson and Keith Webster in a Black Rose label design. The Best Dressed Person was without a doubt the stunning Kelly Blair who wowed the crowds in a dazzling outfit designed by two of her friends. The Best Cellphone Fashion Accessory winner was Kathrin Kidger who wore her own design.
A new category this year, the Fabric of Fashion competition, saw Mike Wheeler churn out yet another remarkable crowd pleaser. The Overall Vodacom Durban July Fashion Experience on-course winner was Melissa Wilson and Keith Webster in their Black Rose label.
These various competitions and pre-race day build up could only have been a catalyst for the fashion frenzy that unleashed itself upon Greyville on 3 July. Virtually every racegoer at this year’s Vodacom Durban July tried to raise the bar in terms of their own personal fashion sense through their interpretation of “Over The Rainbow.”