The 122nd running of the Vodacom Durban July at Greyville Racecourse on Saturday afternoon 7 July will see the iconic event bask in the international sporting and social spotlight as a crowd of over 50 000 converges to watch which thoroughbred will take the title in the R4,25 million feature race shortly after 4pm.
The Justin Snaith trained African Night Sky has been the clear favourite since betting opened, but the highly competitive field has seen support for every one of the eighteen runners in the final field, with stable mate Do It Again rallying with the punters, along with White River, Majestic mambo, Abashiri and Made To Conquer all enjoying solid support at the totes.
Made To Conquer will be the sentimental crowd pleaser as iconic jockey Jeff Lloyd, aged 57, sets out to try and win his first title on his final July ride, after having ridden the great race 26 times in a stellar career.
The 2 200 metre showdown will be a compelling spectacle that will have the crowd on-course and millions worldwide holding their breath.
Demand for places in the popular venues in the Marquee Village has been high, and with accommodation across the city sold out, close on half of the racing fans on-course on Saturday will be visitors from outside of the province.
Last year Gauteng visitors made up the lion’s share of the our-of-province visitors, as eager socialites, fashionistas, celebrities and captains of industry converge on the lavish social event.
Much public interest has been focussed on the convoy of supercars that will ferry Vodacom Durban July guests from Gauteng to Durban for the weekend of festivities, which sees social functions in taverns, clubs and restaurants across the city.
The raceday is the centre of an economic tidal wave that sees tills ringing across the province, with R160 million spent directly in the region by Vodacom Durban July visitors. Add to that over R100 million wagered on totes on-course and off-course, and the raceday’s economic churn is expected to be close to R300 million this year.
It is a hugely celebrated social occasion as A list celebrities jockey for their share of the limelight in the premium hospitality venues, and then share their experiences with their social media followers.
It is also a pivotal occasion for the fashion industry, as the 122 year old event is steeped in a rich tradition of sartorial elegance and raceday fashion trend setters.
For months before the big raceday, competitive elements have taken the Vodacom Durban July Fashion Experience, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, to student designers across KwaZulu-Natal, culminating in ten finalists being exhibited at glitzy fashion shows alongside the eight celebrated icon designers hand-picked for the Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer Showcase.
There is a hugely popular programme of raceday fashion competitions for the Most Striking Couple, Classic Racewear for Males and Females, and the raceday favourite competition for the best hat or fascinator.
The early morning preliminary judging of the raceday fashion competitions will take place in the Parade Ring, a move from previous years when the judging was done on the track, starting at 9:30am.
The late afternoon and evening will see much attention shift to the Galaxy Stage at the new venue at The Lakes Lifestyle village where a brand new concert will see crowd favourites like the Distruction Boyz, Tresor and Lady Lamar entertaining the crowd well into the evening.
The fashion and décor elements of the Vodacom Durban July will be governed by this year’s raceday theme “It Is Time”.