R1m to be given away at Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile

Jockey Callan Murray crosses the finish line on Barahin, taking first place at last year's Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The amount of money put up for donation to worthy causes at the 2020 Charity Mile event will remain at the traditional R1 million level.

Charity is a word not heard much lately. Truth is, old-fashioned charity seems an archaic curiosity in a time when billions of rands are thrown around in the frenzy of pandemic relief – right before that cash is brazenly stolen.

But simple, individual acts of giving are happening all the time – far away from TV cameras and grasping politicians. Ordinary, empathetic South Africans help each other out, every hour, every day.

Much-maligned horse racing is part of the giving process in various ways, but most publicly as it stages its annual Charity Mile race day at Joburg’s Turffontein racecourse.

Racing prize money has been drastically cut back following the collapse of major operator Phumelela. However, the amount of money put up for donation to worthy causes at the 2020 Charity Mile event will remain at the traditional R1 million level.

This is largely thanks to sponsor Peermont Emperors Palace, which has coughed up the “bar” for more than a decade now, with all sorts of worthy causes taking home cheques that keep them going for a little while longer – as they make a major difference to the lives of people and animals in dire need.

Phumelela announced on Thursday 15 October that “in spite of the difficult economic times, the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile will go ahead at Turffontein on Saturday 31 October”.

The Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile is a unique event in that each of the 16 horses in the field runs for a charity.

The organisation that draws the horse that goes on to win gets R150,000. The second-placed horse wins R100,000 for its charity, with R75,000 going to charities represented by the third- and fourth-placed horses. All the other participating charities go home with cheques for R50,000.

To make the day even more fun, each charity is represented by a celebrity. In this coronavirus year, with large crowds banned, only eight celebrities will be involved, with each one supporting two charities.

The 2020 charities are: Lesedi Programme – Electrical; Lesedi Programme – Carpentry; Lesedi Programme – Plumbing; Lesedi Programme – Air Conditioning; Titans Sky Blues Trust; Star School – Vosloorus; Star School – Springs; Emperors Palace Chambers of Commerce Trust (EPCoCT); EPCoCT – Mr Masinga; Highveld Horse Care Unit; Soweto Animal Rescue & Advisory Centre; Animal Anti-Cruelty  League; National Horse Trust; Animal Allies Rescue; and Peermont Education Trust.

Animal Allies Rescue got the R150,000 in 2019 when Mike de Kock-trained colt Barahin romped to an easy victory under jockey Callan Murray.

The previous year, Khangezile school took the R150,000, courtesy of a flying finish from Robbie Sage-trained Coral Fever and the irrepressible Muzi Yeni.

Celebrities invited this year are world cruiserweight boxing champion Kevin Lerena; former junior-lightweight champ Brian Mitchell, platinum-selling singer Zahara, jazz and Afro-pop singer Judith Sephuma, actress Itumeleng Bokaba, sport and racing TV presenter Neil Andrews and sports comedian Shampoonaiza.

Nominations for the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile and the other races on the card close on Monday 19 October.

The final field and draw for the charities draw will take place on Tuesday 27 October and will be shown on TellyTrack.

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