Horse racing in South Africa started with the influx of imported horses led by Dutch explorer Jan van Riebeek to the Cape from Persia and South America in the mid 1600’s. It wasn’t until almost a century and a half later in the dawn of the 1800’s that horses considered to be thoroughbreds were imported into South Africa.
In Cape Town, on the Green Point Common in September of 1797 the first official horse race was held in South Africa’s recorded history. One of South Africa’s first champions was named Tumbler, he was so successful he was raced against British imports. He was the perfect example of a South African thoroughbred that were tough and agile and could run great distances. Soon after this, The Jockey Club of South Africa was founded in 1882 in Port Elizabeth which changed its name to the National Racing Authority.
Since the first race at Green Point Common there are tracks across South Africa; turf tracks, polytracks and sand tracks.
With the discovery of wealth in Kimberly for diamonds and in Gauteng for gold, the racing industry was able to coax more wealthy interest in horse betting in South Africa. Within a year of the discovery of gold in South Africa the Johannesburg turf club held its first meeting in June of 1887. The first South African Derby was held in 1885 in Port Elizabeth. It ran in Port Elizabeth annually until it moved to the new Rand influx creating a wealthy capital of horse racing in Johannesburg.
There are a number of major horse racing events born and bred in South Africa which locals and internationals alike look forward to each year.
Held at the Greyville Racecourse, the Durban July is often referred to as “Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event.” This a yearly outbreak of “July Fever” in anticipation for the event is due to the high stakes betting that takes place by , the rich and famous and the event itself hosts 55 000 people waiting to catch a glimpse of the photo finish.
The Sun Met is a prestigious occasion held in the beginning of the year bringing together the world’s best racers, eager punters and fashionista’s on parade. With the first one held in 1883 as The Metropolitan Mile, it has bloomed into luxury entertainment filled with beauty, excitement and the potential to win big! The Sun Met is considered Cape Town’s most prestigious combination of entertainment, horse racing and high-end fashion.
Held at Turffontein the Triple Crown is held in autumn. Billed as horse racing’s ultimate test, The South African Triple Crown competition consists of a series of three top-level races at Turffontein in Autumn, starting with the Betting World Gauteng Guineas, then the SA Classic and culminating in the Premier’s Champions Challenge.
With Sunbet you can place bets on local races as well as ones that take place in the UK and Ireland. Betting and horse racing have come a long way together and are somewhat inseparable in this day and age. We associate horse racing with betting due to its start and history in South Africa and all around the world.
You can place your bets on any race without having to put on your fancy hat for the Durban July or the Sun Met, though watching the race you have bet on firsthand is an experience you should try at least once.