AFRICA’s premier horserace, the R3.5-million Vodacom Durban July at Greyville on Saturday 6 July, was plunged into controversy this week when the final field was announced and the organisers of the event are now bracing themselves for the possibility that the event may have to be postponed if ailing former President Nelson Mandela dies.
Michel Nairac, CEO of Gold Circle which operates horseracing in KwaZulu-Natal, said: “If Mr Mandela dies in the next week, we will be guided by the Government and follow any protocols they lay down. That might mean the race will have to be postponed.
“If that is the case, it’ll be difficult given that the logistics started months ago and a lot of money has already been spent, but Mr Mandela deserves that kind of respect. At this stage, we just have to wait and see.”
If the race meeting does have to be postponed, it will probably be held on Saturday 27 July but Nairac was not prepared to comment on that possibility.
The owners and trainers of several of the horses that did not make the final field for the race are up in arms about the selection process followed in choosing the 20 runners. They include champion trainer Mike de Kock, who is furious that his charge Rock Cocktail is not among the 20 horses selected to run in the race.