Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Saturday, 06 July 2024 15:02

Durban July is upon us with the theme 'Ride the Wave'.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Officially announcing the Ride the Wave theme on their website, Hollywoodbets encouraged eager attendees to immerse themselves in waves of creativity.

"Pressed white breeches and brightly coloured silks, mirror a tapestry of towels on the beach. Marvel at the power of nature, it leaves one in awe, beyond speech," their annual poem attached to each year's theme reads.

Lock And Key easily won the first race on the card, cheered on by a large and swelling crowd of racegoers. Race 2 saw the bookmakers get a measure of revenge as 12-1 locally trained shot Diani took the honours.

The third race went to 6-1 chance Cape Eagle, another KZN-based horse, before a "bomb dropped" in the fourth, the Gold Vase, with 16-1 outsider Madison Valley exploding a multitude of bets when edging out the equally unfancied Shoot The Rapids – first and second coming from the local team of trainer Frank Robinson and owner Syd Moodley.

Earlier, under sunshine and blue skies, record-breaking champion jockey Richard Fourie steered home two-year-old filly Lock And Key, ahead of 11 older rivals. Trainer Glen Kotzen described the juvenile as "awesome", with a bright future.

And there were dozens of similarly stunningly dressed women in a crowd expected to grow to 50 000 by the time the headliner, the R5-million, Grade 1 Durban July, rolled around at 4pm.

The dress theme for the day – which traditionally hosts South Africa's premier fashion designers – was Ride The Wave.

eThekwini Metro's Economic Development and Planning Unit chairperson, Thembo Nthuli, said the event would attract more than 45 000 punters, fashionistas and guests, while a further 20 000 people would attend the many side events across the city this weekend.

"The direct spend is estimated at R271 million, with a total of R670 million contribution to the eThekwini GDP, and a total number of 5 000 jobs will be created," Ntuli said.

He said safety measures have been implemented and metro police, South African Police Service and public order policing units were on high alert to ensure the safety and security of visitors to the city.

"Metro Police officers will be deployed around the Greyville area, working with other law-enforcement agencies. All intersections will be managed for traffic control, with some road closures," Ntuli said.

Gold Circle marketing and sponsorships executive Steven Marshall said the theme for the event Ride the Wave referred not only to the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean, but also highlighted the "resilience" of the people of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal who had faced the April 2022 floods and the June 2024 tornado in Tongaat.

Marshall said last year the event had been hit by the setback of a power outage that forced the last three races to be cancelled.

"This year, the event organisation team has forged a close collaborative relationship with the green electricity unit, and together, we’ve created an in-depth plan to mitigate what happened last year with multiple backup options in case of any unforeseen circumstances," Marshall said.