USAIN BOLT (Sporting Life)
Mark van Deventer: Cape Town – In a real coup, Olympic sprinting legend Usain Bolt will be hosting Africa’s Richest Race Day, the Sun Met, celebrated with GH Mumm Champagne, on the 27 January at Kenilworth in Cape Town.
This announcement was made at a stylish function staged at the Grand Africa Cafe and Beach, with the charismatic Bolt beckoning fans, “Watch out – I’m on my way!” The true ability of thoroughbred racehorses is measured by their innate speed, so it’s apt that the fastest human on the planet will be making a star turn.
The Sun Met is an iconic horse race with an extended history dating back to 1883. “Style ahead of the field,” is the mantra for the 134th edition as a dynamic array of sponsors aspire to elevate the event to global standards. Sun International, Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, Investec, Cape Thoroughbred Sales, Klawervlei Stud and Kuda Insurance are building on a successful collaboration initiated last year.
Eugene Boniface of Sun International exclaimed, ‘This is a massive day for us with the Sun Met one of South Africa’s epic horse races. We’re finding ways to pair it as a sister race to other big ones around the world, such as the Investec Derby at Epsom and the Melbourne Cup.” Indeed, tremendous strides have been made since this group of sponsors partnered up just four months before last year’s inaugural Sun Met, and they harbour exciting plans to eventually turn it into a grand racing festival stretching over a couple of days.
In a comment by Wehann Smith of Kuda Insurance, “There is so much history attached to the big race and it’s always been an important part of the Cape social calendar.” The Met is renowned for attracting an eclectic mix of the fashionable and famous – and with “Afro-Chic” chosen for the theme energetic crowds will party on in vibrant colours, prints and intricate fabric designs.
The conditions of entry for this year’s race have been slightly tweaked in a technical move which will satisfy the purists. It will now be run as a weight-for-age contest, which will serve to attract the best horses in the country. The R5-million stake is a suitably lucrative prize for the Met, with another R15 million on offer for other important races on the day’s full programme.
Rob Scott of Phumelela drew attention to a new incentive – a R1-million rand bonus which can be secured by any horse who manages to win both the Sansui Summer Cup at Turffontein on the 27 November and the 2018 Met. He spoke about the global reach of the historic event and it’s positive impact for local breeding, betting and tourism industries. “The SunMet will showcase Cape racing and also be linked to the Cape Premier Yearling Sales in January. And with five other Group 1 races being beamed to Hong Kong with co-mingled pools on the day, significant exposure to the Asian market will be achieved.”
These are all fantastic developments with multiple spin offs for South African horse racing and the Cape regional economy. The Mother City remains a highly attractive destination, with a special vibe particularly during the Summer months, and the 2018 SunMet will add to that great atmosphere and sense of occasion. Fun- seekers looking for more details, should check out www.sunmet.co.za