Turffontein Racecourse was awash with people, paints and prawns as the public came to celebrate Derby Day on Saturday.
The SA Derby was the final leg of the SA Triple Crown for three-year-old colts, while the Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks was the conclusion of the Triple Tiara for three-year-old fillies. No horse was in line to win the respective bonuses, but that did not detract from a wonderful day’s entertainment.
The day’s cuisine was dominated by prawns as the public flocked to Turffontein to enjoy the Joburg Prawn Festival. Mouthwatering smells from the grillers wafted across the grounds as people piled prawns onto their plates, many combining the feast with a glass of ale in the Beer Garden.
The Kids Zone was full of youngsters having their faces painted.
And, of course, there were the horses. People flocked to the course to watch the expected duel between star Legal Eagle and the pretender to his throne Soqrat in the Grade 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m. They also wanted to see Hawwaam, rated the 10th best horse in the world, romp to victory in the R2-million SA Derby.
Neither thrill materialised. Soqrat did win the Horse Chestnut Stakes but Legal Eagle failed to run a place. And Hawwaam was spooked in the parade ring when another horse dumped his rider. The Mike de Kock trained runner got free from his handlers and took off riderless to the start and was withdrawn from the race.
“For the most part, the day was wonderful,” said Clyde Basel, Executive: Racing & Events for Phumelela Gaming. “Derby Day was well attended and everybody enjoyed the Prawn Festival.
“However, they came to the course for two reasons, for the prawns and to watch Hawwaam, so having him scratched from the race was disappointing.”