The Vodacom Durban July is a highlight of the city’s sporting and social calendar and always promises to be a seriously glamorous and enjoyable affair. The race, which is run at Greyville Racecourse in Durban, has been taking place since 1897 and is the most prestigious horse racing event in South Africa. A high energy and hotly anticipated occasion, the distance of the course has changed over time. In the beginning, jockeys only had to race for 1 mile, but today riders tackle a more challenging 11 furlong or 220-metre distance. Attended by locals and racing enthusiasts, as well as intrigued visitors, this historic annual event is not to be missed.
The Oyster Box Hotel has a long history with The Vodacom Durban July, with owners and trainers making the hotel their base during the lead-up to this legendary horse race for over 60 years. The hotel’s Chukka Bar has long been a favourite haunt for bookies and punters, and many a race has been dissected here both before and after the event.
When it comes to the Vodacom Durban July, style is as important as sport and it’s an opportunity for Durban’s most fashionable residents to showcase their sartorial flair. What attendees are wearing on race day is, almost, as highly anticipated as which horse will cross the finish line first. There are competitions and prizes for the most fashionable guests, with accolades including most ‘Exceptional Race day Hat or Fascinator’ as well as ‘Most Striking Couple.’ Additionally, each year has a theme, which is designed to inspire the dress code. ‘It Is Time’ has been chosen for the 2018 event and is certain to encourage some eye-catching outfits.
Back at The Oyster Box, discover several unexpected spots that celebrate the occasion and include memorabilia from the race. The walls of the Durban July Room, used for meetings and events, are adorned with pictures of every July winner since the race began. Moreover, guests will spot the silks worn by the jockey who rode the 1953 July winner, Flash On, in pride of place. On a personal level, Mr & Mrs Tollman, the founders and owners of Red Carnation Hotels, were regular attendees at The Durban July in years gone by. In fact, Mr Tollman, having won some money on the winning horse at The Durban July in 1953, purchased Mrs Tollman’s engagement ring, which she still wears today.
To further mark the hotel’s special connection to this Durban event, two of the hotel suites are named after July Winners – Flash On & Brookhill. Brookhill was the July Winner in 1947, ridden by Jockey Tiger Wright and Flash On was the winner in 1953 and was ridden by Jockey Westwater. Personal touches such as fresh fruit and flowers as well as movies on demand, soap and pillow menus and beach gear, ensure that a stay at The Oyster Box over this period, will be memorable and a fitting tribute to the historic and much-loved Vodacom Durban July.
Embrace the atmosphere of the Vodacom Durban July in the elegant Chukka Bar at The Oyster Box hotel, well known its fine collection of cigars and whisky.
Image Credits: Lead image and racecourse image © Vodacom Durban July. All other images © Red Carnation Hotels,