By Andile Dladla & Mandla Dladla
The Vodacom sponsored Durban July is a combination of sport, entertainment and fashion all rolled into a single event that without fail, captures the imagination of the entire continent whenever it is staged in South Africa’s holiday city.
It is an event that offers entertainment of the highest order, fashion designers from all corners of the country utilizes the event to display their latest wares while the main event happens to be the horse racing that has become an important date in the calendar of South African sport.
2This year marks exactly 125 years that the horse racing event was established and 20 years since mobile company Vodacom partnered the event to turn the event into an event which if you miss it, why, life itself would be passing you by with a brief nod.
The Durban July event is capable of attracting in excess of 50 000 people and still have the capacity to attract even more. But the outbreak of the Corona pandemic has presented the organizers with plenty of health challenges as they have to limit the number of people by negotiating their way around ensuring that it does not become a “super spreader event!”
“Last year we collaborated with Channel-O where we had pre and after parties organized virtually which turned out to be very successful events,” said Marketing and Events Executive for Gold Circle Steve Marshall.
“We are looking forward to reigniting that partnership by offering something similar this year so that people can enjoy the entertainment aspect of the event in the safety of their homes,” Marshall.
“In early March we announced that the theme at this year’s racing event would be ‘Birds of a feather’.
The Vodacom Durban July fashion is broken down into three sections where we first have the young designers awards that is our entry level where we have varsity students competing to try and win that price aimed at launching their careers in the fashion industry.
The second section is where the city of Durban really gets involved where we have the Durban fashion fare rising stars collection. This year we have a grouping of eight designers who are in the middle of their careers and still establishing themselves and would be offered the platform to really launch their brands into the fashion industry.
“The final one is the invited designers who have already made it to the summit and are well-known creative gurus in the fashion industry. There are five of them and each has been requested to create three designs.”
The main event, the horse racing event is well underway and preparations are already at an advanced stage some of the finest and on-form horses currently as well as their jockeys are putting final touches to what is considered the biggest racing event in the country.
As far as our major sponsors go Vodacom have been involved from the creation of the theme, fashion and entertainment because for them the shindig is undoubtedly one of the social events of the year.
“We recognised the need to be responsible during these times which is why we made the early decision to run the event like last year behind closed doors with limited access to the race course on the day to essential personnel and stakeholders of the racing industry with no crowds in attendance”.
Horse racing has always been considered the sport of Kings, so there’s always been a sort of royal status attached to it. The fact that it is embraced by the rich and middle class, young and old and even the man in the street makes it an easily accessible sporting event as you can put a bet from as little as 5 Rands while another could bet with R5000 clearly shows that it attracts the interest and entertainment factor of a wide audience and income brackets.
“We do not have international participants in the Vodacom Durban July and the main reason being that the stakes for the race is now R2-million from the R4.2-million it used to generate prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The restrictions on the industry and revenue streams have meant that the stakes have had to come down. There is also the exchange rate effect that the actual value we are racing for when converted to international currencies is obviously less significant and the cost to transport a horse is just expensive.