Greyville Racecourse in downtown Durban is gearing up for another capacity crowd as the 121st edition of the Vodacom Durban July attracts punters, socialites and fashion lovers from every corner of the country.
With weather forecast to mild and breezy, the stage is set for a magical day at the races, against the backdrop of the raceday theme “The Colour of Magic” that governs all the fashion, hospitality and décor element of the big day.
The event will attract the country’s A list celebrities, beauty queens, sporting icons, musicians and movie stars, rubbing shoulders with the captains of industry and the who’s who of the political world.
The pinnacle of the day is the running of the R4,25 million Vodacom Durban July to decide the name to be added to the Vodacom Durban July sash beneath the name of last year’s winner The Conglomerate.
The Joey Ramsden trained five year old could be the first thoroughbred to win back-to-back titles since El Picha did the double for Geoff Woodruff in 1999 and 2000.
Punters have thrown their support behind the Brett Crawford trained Edict Of Nantes since the final field was announced last week, but the late rally in betting has been for the Sean Tarry trained three year old colt Al Sahem, and stable mate French Navy.
With the majority of the visitors to the Vodacom Durban July flying and driving in from Gauteng, the weekend is a bonanza for the local economy, which nets an estimated R133 million in direct expenditure around the event, and around R260 million overall on their weekend stay in the province. This excludes the amount in excess of R100 million that is expected to wagered on the totes on raceday.
There are winner on and off the track. With millions being spent on hosting guests in the lavish suites and Marquee Village, there is also dogged competition to try and win the award for the best decorated venue on raceday.
From 9:30am the track will be a swathe of colour as eager fashionistas try to catch the judges eye to make the finals of the four raceday fashion competitions for Classic Racewear (Male and Female), the Huawei Most Striking Couple and Exceptional Raceday Hat or Fascinator.
At 1pm the outfits put together by the eight household names that are part of the Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase will be presented on the Action Stage, providing the days fashion highlight.
This will follow the long awaited announcement of the winners of the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award and the Fashion Challenge, presented by Durban Fashion Fair.
Celebrating 15 years as the title sponsor of Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, Vodacom is staging the #VodacomRedDash4Cash competition, with cash and Huawei smartphone prizes to be given away totalling R250 000.
To enter participants must listen to East Coast Radio or follow their social media accounts to discover two locations at the Vodacom Durban July where they need to take a selfie and then post it to their own social media account.
Each selfie counts as a separate individual entry for the grand prize so the more landmarks visited and selfies posted, the greater the chance of winning the grand prize of R100 000.
Visitors to the Vodacom Durban July will be able to enjoy the contemporary catering and hospitality on offer at the new lifestyle village close to the Action Stage, where a range of trendy food offerings will be available from a fleet of food trucks.
Once the shadows fall across the infield, the evening will feature four races under floodlights, before the mood switches to party mode.
The organisers of the event have extended the closing time of the event to 11pm, and urged those enjoying the evening festivities to be mindful of their valuables at all time.