Sadly, given the reality of the present circumstances, the VDJ race meeting will be staged behind closed doors and without spectators,” said Gold Circle CEO Michel Nairac. Vodacom and Gold Circle have confirmed a joint commitment to run Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event but under the strictest adherence to all government health protocols surrounding COVID-19.
Horse racing fans can take heart that the 2020 Vodacom Durban July will take place this year, but as a broadcast-only event behind closed doors. However, the real race is on to ensure the welfare of the many equine athletes being negatively affected by the financial constraints of the Covid-19 lockdown.
If you’ve ever wondered what actually goes on ‘Behind Closed Doors’ at Vodacom Durban July DurbanTV can give you a little taste of the race day when we filmed ‘behind the scenes’ following these magnificent animals during the traditional ‘gallops’ and featuring the most famous voice of South African horse racing, Craig Peters as he clocked up his record-breaking 30th Durban July commentary.
“The VDJ has enjoyed an uninterrupted history since first being run in 1897 – not even two world wars prevented the race from being run – and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that 2020 is not the exception,” he added.
The effects of Covid-19 are being felt particularly hard by the local racing industry which is under intense pressure to not only take care of their precious athletes; the horses themselves, but also to try to keep the many grooms, jockeys, trainers and ancillary staff afloat as owners themselves find themselves under intense financial strain due to lockdown restrictions affecting every industry, not just racing.
It all has a knock-on effect and the Coastal Horse Care Unit, a registered NPO whose main focus is to rescue and rehabilitate equines in need and also does tremendous outreach work in rural communities to educate and ensure the care of all equines in KwaZulu Natal has experienced these effects first hand.
Gillian Olhmsdahl, the Chairperson and Volunteer manager at Coastal Horse Care unit explained, “The outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has negatively affected all businesses and although we are trying to keep positive, the impact on welfare organizations is of grave concern. Being a registered NPO, and an Equine rescue and rehabilitation centre, we rely heavily on organizations affiliated with racing for financial support. Our organisation assists the trainers by bringing in Thoroughbreds off the track and endeavouring to rehabilitate and rehome them.
Gillian added, “We currently have 28 horses at the unit and expect these numbers to grow dramatically over the next few weeks as the effects of No Racing impacts the industry causing subsequent financial constraints inevitably leading to the number of horses in training being reduced considerably, hence the future of these equine athletes are sadly uncertain. We desperately hope that with continued funding we are able to get through these difficult times and are able to continue to assist the projected influx of horses coming out of racing and into our care.”
Donations to Coastal Horse Care Unit can be made via their website: http://www.coastalhorsecareunit.org.za/
The proposed date for the race is Saturday 25 July, but the extremely fluid nature of the current pandemic means this could change as circumstances so dictate.
“Any decision we make around the Vodacom Durban July this year will be made as a responsible company committed to the safety of all who are involved. As a sponsor, we will work together with all relevant stakeholders and be guided by the horseracing fraternity and the experts in this industry, as well as in government, as we all work towards making this year’s race a reality,” said Michelle van Eyden, the Executive Head of Sponsorship at Vodacom.
The 2020 Vodacom Durban July takes place at Hollywoodbets Greyville Racecourse on Saturday 25 July.
More information can be found at www.vodacomdurbanjuly.co.za