By Agence France Presse
Combining excessive vogue with sport, practically 50,000 racegoers marked the 120th anniversary of Africa’s biggest horse race on Saturday at a packed course within the South African coastal metropolis of Durban.
The annual “Durban July” handicap race attracts one of many continent’s most vogue-acutely aware crowds, with the trackside glamour and get together environment usually threatening to overhaul the horse motion.
“Me and my mates all the time come right here for the leisure and vogue, we all know nothing about horses and betting,” stated Thina Thusi, a 31-year-previous public relations supervisor from Johannesburg.
“We normally begin planning for at the present time from February — the garments to match completely, plus journey preparations and leisure,” she stated. “It requires some huge cash.”
The race, held at Greyville racecourse on the primary Saturday of July, historically attracts a number of South African celebrities and politicians eager to be seen at one of many nation’s biggest social events.
President Jacob Zuma is normally an everyday on the race, surrounded by loyal ANC get together supporters and rich enterprise leaders who pay hundreds of for entry to the highly effective elite.
However the ANC held a significant convention in Johannesburg this weekend, protecting Zuma away and depleting the political contingent on the observe.
Among the many crowds was renown vogue follower Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, in addition to Bongi Ngema, who's one in all Zuma’s 4 wives, King Letsie III of Lesotho and lots of tv personalities.
‘A nationwide day’
For followers, the race combines a enjoyable betting alternative with previous-world attraction and South Africa’s exuberant trendy social tradition.
“Everybody desires to be on the Durban July, It’s like a nationwide day, the nation involves a standstill,” stated Gill Mostert, spokeswoman for Gold Circle, the nation’s racing and betting firm.
“Fashion has all the time been a giant a part of the Durban July, even within the 1900s. Folks of all ages, even grannies from previous-age properties, got down to gown nicely and have enjoyable.”
This 12 months’s theme — The Shade of Magic — noticed members experimenting with multi-coloured outfits and outlandish hats, vying for finest-dressed prizes.
Girls in excessive heels and males in tuxedos and designer fits paid restricted consideration to the horses, as champagne and buffet lunches had been served in dozens of plush marquees lining the trackside.
As dwell music drifted throughout the course, fashions dressed by high South African designers corresponding to Terrence Bray sashayed down makeshift runways at a number of vogue reveals.
The primary recorded race occasion in South Africa passed off in 1802, since when the game has developed into a significant playing draw.
Saturday’s 12 races had been anticipated to draw 200-million rand ($15 million/13 million euros) in bets from punters nationwide.
In keeping with Think about Racing journal, a win within the race “locations a horse in an elite group of equine champions and paves the best way for a possible stud profession”.
Tourism officers stated the occasion generates about $20 million in income for town of Durban.