Mike Moon
Horse racing correspondent
2 minute read
18 Feb 2022
3:03 pm

Durban July gets new sponsor and R5m stake

Mike Moon

The July has been contested at Greyville racecourse in Durban for 125 years and its previous sponsors have been South African cellphone operator Vodacom and British tobacco company Rothmans.

Kommetdieding wins the 2021 Durban July, which will have a new sponsor this year. Picture: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Hollywoodbets is the new sponsor of South Africa’s premier horse race, the Durban July. The big race’s total purse has been boosted to R5 million for the 2022 running – a 250% increase on last year’s stake and a sizeable jump from the previous high of R3.5 million, on offer before the pandemic.

Hollywoodbets, a South African-based betting firm that has been rapidly growing domestically and internationally, has also put up R13 million for increased stakes throughout the KwaZulu-Natal winter season – which is headlined by the July.

This boost will be for both feature and minor races run in the province between 1 March and 31 August.

Yet another initiative announced at this week’s sponsorship announcement between Hollywoodbets and KZN racing operator Gold Circle is an increase in prizemoney for grooms of winning horses from R1,000 to R2,000 – initially for the months of March, April and May.

Known as the Grooms Initiative, this Gold Circle-Hollywoodbets joint enterprise launched in 2019 has already put R2 million into the pockets of grooms – a critical sector of the racing industry that has been undervalued for a long time.

The July has been contested at Greyville racecourse in Durban for 125 years and its previous sponsors have been South African cellphone operator Vodacom and British tobacco company Rothmans.

Speaking at this week’s announcement event – where the owner of 2021 July champion Kommetdieding, Ashwin Reynolds and his wife Renee, were special guests – Hollywoodbets commercial manager Sandisiwe Bhengu said: “This is a watershed moment for Hollywoodbets as we proudly take the reins of this unique event. The success of our business was built on the foundation of horseracing, and now we are able to continue this legacy with the assistance of a powerful platform. It is a huge honour for us.

“We aim to be more than just a title sponsor. We align ourselves with projects we truly believe in, and the Hollywoodbets Durban July has the potential to spawn incredible opportunities and transformation.

“The magnitude of this event extends way beyond just horse racing, covering tourism, entertainment, fashion and small to medium businesses. The reach and influence, both brand wise and economically, provides employment for thousands of people.”

It has been estimated that the July injected some R300 million into the local economy in 2019, the last year the public was allowed to attend the race meeting.

The 2022 running of the Hollywoodbets Durban July is on 2 July.