Cape Town - For the first time in history, Africa’s greatest horseracing event, the Vodacom Durban July, was held in an empty venue.
The race, won by Belgarion, was staged last week at Greyville Racecource with 60,000 empty seats as event organisers abided by COVID-19 control measures.
The Durban July - which last year pumped an estimated R159 million (about US$10 million) into the South African economy – is both a major sporting event and a big date in the country’s social calendar.
Organisers got the greenlight to stage the race following weeks of negotiations with the government.
It was agreed that all jockeys should be based in one province, and public viewing could only be done online.
Balgarion, trained by Justin Snaith was ridden to victory by Richard Fourie.
“It has been a year in the making. Six months ago I said to Justin I would like to ride this horse in July …” said Fourie after the race.
Fourie won the 2019 Durban July while rising another horse from Snaith’s stable, Do It Again.
Trailing Balgarion was Got The Greenlight (Joe Soma trainer, Muzi Yni jockey), Do It Again (Snaith trainer, Anthon Marcus jockey), Golden Ducat (Eric Sands trainer, Donovan Dillion jockey), It’s My Turn (Dean Kannemeyer trainer, Sean Vale jockey), and Rainbow bridge (Eric Sands trainer, Warren Kennedy jockey).