CHAMPIONS of the future will take centre stage in a final tribute to one of South Africa’s most iconic thoroughbred racing venues when Clairwood Racecourse in Durban hosts its final meeting on Saturday.
A large crowd is expected at the southern Durban course for the Asian Young Guns Challenge, an international competition involving leading apprentice jockeys from the 10 countries that form the Asian Racing Association of which South Africa is a member.
Gold Circle, in conjunction with the SA Jockey Academy that is the official host of the meeting, have planned an exciting and entertaining day for the thousands of people expected and, according to Gold Circle’s Racing and Marketing Executive Graham Hawkins, there will be many “give-aways” for the public on the day.
A special trophy, inscribed “The Last Race”, to mark the final race ever run at Clairwood, will be presented to the owner of the horse that wins the final race of the day.
But on Saturday, in spite of the sadness and nostalgia that will be felt by those that have been closely connected with the course and the many that have memories of exciting experiences there, the show will go on with enthusiasm and dedication until the final curtain closes at the end of the day.
As can be expected, sentiment will be furthest from the minds of the young riders when their mounts are lead into the starting stalls in the four races that form the Challenge. For them it will be all about the task at hand and the burning desire to win and make their countries proud of them.
The Challenge was first staged in 2009 at the famous Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia and since then at courses in Singapore, Macau and New Zealand. It comes to South Africa for the first time where two top local apprentices will compete against leading young riders from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Mauritius.
These are the potential champion jockeys of the future that have already shown the talent that could carry them through to the highest level and international racing fame in years to come.
For them it is another step forward in their quest for greatness and it is fitting that their dreams of the future pay tribute to the glory of the past that has been the Clairwood Racecourse where the “greats” of South African racing have gone to battle since the opening of the venue in May, 1921.
An exciting and entertaining day it will be, but one tinged with sadness. The great horses, great trainers and great jockeys, and the great battles they fought on the Clairwood turf, will become memories of the great past of a truly great racing venue.
It is a very special day, so join the crowd at Clairwood on Saturday to be part of the historic occasion as the hopefuls of the future, the Asian Young Guns, write the final chapter of Clairwood’s 93-year history.