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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Durban basks in sunshine and the excitement of the 2023 Durban July

Big money and high fashion meet at Greyville racecourse.

Blue skies, warm sun and mixed betting fortunes greeted a capacity crowd of 50,000 at the 2023 Hollywoodbets Durban July race meeting at Greyville on Saturday.

The first four races were won by horses at odds of 7-1, 9-4, 40-1 and 4-1 – but even the less favourable results did not take away from the excitement that kept building from early on the morning of the first Saturday in July.

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Run continuously since 1897, South Africa’s premier race never fails to stir the national interest as millions of people throughout the country have their flutter for the year. Extra interest was stirred by a Pick 6 exotic bet with a record pool of R20-million.

‘Out of this World’

The emphasis on fashion in the July marketing over the years has paid huge dividends, with just about everyone arriving at the downtown Durban racecourse having made an effort to dress up. The popular new TV drama Shaka Ilembe inspired many a designer – as did the fashion theme “Out of this World”.

The “tent town” in the infield of the course was electric, with hospitality bubbling out of every corporate venue – even though many guests clearly could not tell the front of a horse from the rear.

A model at the Durban July
A model presents creations by local designers during a fashion show at the 2023 edition of the Hollywoodbets Durban July horse race in Durban on Saturday. Picture: Rajesh Jantilal / AFP

KwaZulu-Natal, hammared in recent years by stormy weather and stormy politics, badly needs events like Africa’s greatest horse race to buoy its economy and keep it on the tourism map.

DStv packages explaining the intricacies of the racing game surely drew in an audience of millions on their sofas at home around the country – even though politicians and their ilk took every opportunity to speak utter drivel into a microphone.

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