This past weekend I flew to Durban to attend The Vodacom Durban July, which is held annually on the first Saturday of July at Greyville Racecourse. Having attended the J&B met in Cape Town earlier this year, I thought I’d do a comparison see which event is the better one.
The Durban July was first held in July 1897 at a distance of approx 1600m. The distance was modified several times until 1970, when it was changed to its current 2200 meters. The early history of the J&B Met is linked to Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape during the early 1800s. The race was first run on the Green Point Common. English soldiers attached to the Cape Garrison would race one another and the ladies of the Cape would come out in all their finery to watch the event. The race moved to Kenilworth in the late 1800s and became the SA Turf Club’s main feature, held in summer each year. It is the oldest horse race in the country.
Now, both the Durban July and the Met attract about 50000 people to their respective racecourses The J&B Met Hospitality Village usually boasts 30 corporate marquees, hosting over 5200 guests to lunch and dinner. This year The Durban July, not to be outdone, increased the Tent Town allocated space, allowing for 40 hospitality tents.
So, which one is better? Well both events are exceptionally organised. Each year the themes for both events are perfectly selected and it’s always a talking point for weeks before and weeks after each event.
So, it’s all pretty evenly matched. However, my vote goes to the J&B Met for the simple reason that I am a bit of a “greenie” and the Met is held in a conservation area. Part of the race’s contribution to the Cape’s natural heritage is donating a portion of each sale to the Kenilworth Conservation Area. This small area of unspoilt Cape fynbos has major conservation significance as the habitat of a variety of protected species of fauna and flora.