The last Saturday of January is blocked out in the diaries of horse -acing fans all over South Africa, as they make their way to Cape Town’s Kenilworth Racecourse for the J&B Met – the Cape’s most glamourous racing event and an über-chic photo opportunity for fashionistas.
The 50 000 available tickets are snapped up within days of going on sale each January. Facilities include a marquee village with a crowd capacity of 5 000 and dozens of picnic sites. As it is a gambling event, under-18s are not invited.
As part of the race’s contribution to the Cape’s natural heritage, a portion of each sale is donated to the Kenilworth Conservation Area, which is in the middle of the racecourse. This small area of unspoilt Cape fynbos has conservation significance as the habitat of a variety of protected species of fauna and flora.
Once their tickets are tucked away in a safe place, the fashion conscious toss and turn through sleepless nights as they ponder the matter of what to wear. Luckily the organisers come up with exciting themes to help punters put together a drop dead gorgeous look.
However, the real stars of the day are the horses, whose beauty surpasses anything else seen on the day. Originally called the Metropolitan Mile when it was first run in 1883 – and won by Sir Hercules – the race had a chequered history until establishing itself as one of South Africa’s “big three” races in the 1960s. Today the Met holds its own alongside the Vodacom Durban July and the Sansui Summer Cup in Gauteng. In 1978 the Met was given a new lease on life. Sponsors J&B stepped in with prize money in the millions and the J&B Met exploded onto the race circuit as a must-do social and racing event.
The roll of honour lists many of the country’s top racehorses, including Foveros, Wolf Power, Model Man, Empress Club, London News, Horse Chestnut, Yard-Arm and Pocket Power.
Betting enquiries can be directed to the J&B Met information centre on +27 (0)21 700 1621. For corporate hospitality packages, contact Worldsport on 021 426 5775 and for further enquiries, contact Gold Circle on +27 (0)21 700 1602/1621.