CHAMPIONS Season in Kwazulu-Natal is a three-month feast of superior racing offering feature race stakes in excess of R23-million in a programme of 45 Graded, Listed and special events, headed by Africa’s greatest racing spectacle, the R3,5 million Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July. Champions Season launches on Saturday 4 May at Greyville, with the running of the Colts and Fillies Guineas, as well as the Drill Hall Stakes.
The great news is that the stakes pot for the Champions Season feature races has been given a R6million cash injection, which represents a 28% increase on previous levels. This news follows hot on the heels of Gold Circle’s announcement earlier this year of an across the board stakes increase of between 10% and 11% for all minor races in the province and the news that this year’s Vodacom Durban July will be run for a stake of R3,5 million, making it the richest horserace on the continent.
The biggest Champion Season increases are the R500,000 added to the Vodacom Durban July stake, while the Daily News 2000 also gets a R500,000 cash injection and this year will be run for a stake of R1,5 million. The stake for the Woolavington 2000, run on the same afternoon as the Daily News 2000, has been increased to R750,000. The stake for the Gold Cup, the country’s most important race for stayers and final feature of the season, also goes up by R250,000 and will carry a stake of R1,25million.
Other significant increases for the Grade 1 races include the Golden Horse Sprint and Mercury Sprint, now both worth R750,000, the SA Fillies Sprint, up R100,000 to R600,000 and the Garden Province Stakes, up R250,000 to R750,000.
Added to Champions Season this year is the KwaZulu-Natal Breeders’Day scheduled for the Saturday before the July when the KZN Breeders Million Mile worth R1-million will hold centre stage. The Million Mile will be backed up by seven other races, all with a stake of R200,000.
Running from the beginning of May to the end of July, Champions Season provides a comprehensive mix of events catering for all the needs of the thoroughbred population with major contests for two-year-olds, three-year-olds and the older horses from sprints through middle distance races to the strong-winded stayers.
Celebrating the importance of the classic races for three-year-olds, special meetings are staged for the KRA Guineas and KRA Fillies Guineas over the traditional 1600m as well as the Betting World Derby and Betting World Oaks over 2400m, races from which great champions of the future could emerge.