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City set for equestrian extravaganza

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All systems go for SA's only horse racing dirt track this weekend

Preparations are underway at the Flamingo Park Race Track for the tomorrow's horse racing event. Picture: Danie van der Lith

IT’S ALL systems go at South Africa’s only horse racing dirt track, 11km outside Kimberley, as the city braces for an equestrian extravaganza this weekend.

The inaugural Flamingo Park Race was officially launched at the Flamingo Casino last night and tomorrow’s race day has all the makings to become one of the country’s most prestigious sporting events, while also taking its place among showcases like the Durban July and Cape Town’s J&B Met on the social calendar.

In partnership with the City of Kimberley and supported by Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, the event is spearheaded by Bosco Sports Management and offers an inclusive experience for locals and visitors from all parts of the country.

The equestrian link in Kimberley goes as far back as the late nineteenth century, when the city was the initial hub of industrialisation in South Africa.

This is a history that organisers will use to drive the Northern Cape economy through its inaugural event.

According to Bosco spokesperson, Zanele Modiba, the fact that the only dirt track in the country is just outside Kimberley, on the Boshof Road, made the city the ideal location as it would make for a different experience to that of more established events in other parts of the country.

Modiba added that what would also set this weekend apart from similar events is the fact that a concerted effort has been made to give people from all socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to be part of the activities.

“Considering the popularity and rich history of horse racing as a sport in South Africa, Kimberley is the best suited host city for this event,” explained Modiba.

“While all other horse racing events in the country have become an elite experience, showcasing premium brands and lifestyle activities, the Flamingo Park Race event will be more of a multicultural and inclusive event that caters for varying tastes of horse racing enthusiasts as well as the Kimberley community at large.”

While eyes are likely to be glued to the horses and fashion, the event is also intended to develop small enterprises and 10 local entrepreneurs have been invited to promote youth businesses in the city and Northern Cape in general.

Skills development in the industry has been prioritised in the build-up to tomorrow, with a dozen local groomers gearing up for their opportunity to demonstrate their riding prowess when they take to the track against their peers in the first race tomorrow.

This opening dash forms part of the Racing Association, Racing Trust and Phumelela’s Work Riders Programme, which provides previously disadvantaged people with the opportunity to undergo training in the sport in order to develop their riding skill to a level equivalent to that of a professional jockey.

The race will also afford these work riders the opportunity to receive the same prize money as that of a qualified, professional jockey.

With a star-studded line-up of performing artists in attendance, guests will be entertained by some of South Africa’s finest talent with Amazulu hit singer and BET award nominee Amanda Black headlining a selection that will also include the likes of Prince Kaybee and Metro FM’s Kings of the Weekend, DJ Spectacular and DJ Naves.

Visitors and participants will also be granted the opportunity to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of the horse racing industry, as well as the who’s who of the fashion world, who will be looking to personify the events theme, “Dressed to Win”.

“One of the highlights of the event is a celebration of our design industry with some fashionistas taking to the red carpet in designer hats, outrageous outfits and unique expressions of racy fashion,” said Modiba. “A best-dressed race-day competition is set to add to the fun and glamour of the day.

“Families can also look forward to exciting children’s activities and fun entertainment.”

As for the main attraction, the horse racing itself, a plethora of South Africa’s equine elite will be vying for their place in the winner’s circle.

Legendary jockeys, including S’manga Khumalo and Muzi Yeni, will be riding some of the finest thoroughbreds money can buy with R1 million at stake in the main event.

“This year, we’d like to see more involvement from our local communities participating in the sporting event – and we’re also encouraging enthusiasts from other cities to join us for the weekend in Kimberley for a ‘first of its kind’ experience of the city,” said Modiba.

“We’d like to see greater diversity in ownership, participation, investment and race event attendance. We’ve introduced information desks where anyone interested can find out more about the world of breeders, trainers, jockeys and owners.”

Tickets are available at Computicket and range from R150 for access to “The Village” while VVIP treatment will cost R3 500

For more information contact Stephen Galane, [email protected] or mobile 078 124 5851.

Follow the event: @FlamingoPrkRace on Twitter / Flamingo Park Race on Facebook and Instagram