South Africa’s new horse racing operator 4Racing, which rose from the ruins of Phumelela, will be formally introduced to the world on Champions Day at Turffontein – via the grand gesture of an R750,000 sponsorship boost for the meeting.
4Racing has been very low-key in emerging from the business rescue process that followed the collapse of Phumelela in 2020. Mary Oppenheimer Daughters (MOD) stumped up cash for the rescue and subsequent restructuring and 4Racing has been the outcome.
With prominent lawyer Mxolisi Zwane as chairman and former Racing Association boss and horse owner Colin Gordon active on the operational side, 4Racing will “launch the brand to the wider industry” on Champions Day, Saturday 1 May, “while also bolstering prize money for the day’s seven feature races”, a press release announced on Thursday.
In the release, ironically issued by Phumelela, Gordon said: “We are extremely excited to launch 4Racing at a race meeting that sees the equine champions congregate at Turffontein for the climax of the Highveld Summer-Autumn Feature Race Season. The Premier’s Champions Challenge looks like it’s going to be an absolute thriller with the likes of Gotthegreenlight and Malmoos hopefully set to lock horns.
“Equally exciting, and in line with 4Racing’s commitment to the upliftment of all horseracing’s participants, the day will also play host to the inaugural Highveld Work Riders versus Jockeys Challenge, which we have decided to name The James Maree Challenge in appreciation of the enormous commitment he has made to this initiative over many years. This event will see the top eight work riders take on the eight leading jockeys in a points-based competition in a R150,000 race down the Turffontein straight,” added Gordon.
Looking to the future he said: “While there are still a number of regulatory approvals to be concluded before the Phumelela transaction completes, we believe that the time is right to come to the party by sponsoring this major race meeting in the interests of the stakeholders in the sport.”
The two Grade 1 events on the programme, the Premier’s Champions Challenge and the Computaform Sprint, each get an extra R250,000 in prize money, bringing their total stakes to R750,000 each.
The remaining features – the SA Nursery, SA Fillies Nursery, the Camelia Stakes, the Gerald Rosenberg Stakes and the Gold Bowl – get an additional R50,000 apiece for total stakes of R250,000.
Feature races throughout the country were dealt a massive blow in 2020 when purses had to be slashed in the wake of a pandemic shutdown and the collapse of Phumelela.
The Premier’s Champions Challenge, now raced for R750,000, carried a total stake of R2 million in the years leading up to 2019 – illustrating the precipitous fall in the game’s fortunes in recent times.