Horse Racing - Enjoy a Day at the Races in South Africa

Not many people think of enjoying a day at the races whilst visiting South Africa, but this country has a large and well established horse racing community. In fact, there are probably more thoroughbreds in South Africa than there are horses of any other breed and there is usually at least one full mile track located at the outskirts of every large city. Many of these tracks are named after more famous counterparts in the US or UK, such as Arlington which is located in Port Elizabeth. Other tracks host regular annual events, such as the Durban July race meet, which are akin to the Kentucky Derby in nature. The event is a collaboration of chic fashion and beautiful horses and people from all walks of life come to the event to enjoy the festivities.

Horse Racing in South Africa is well-developed and the events are organized and administered by several major horse racing organizations. Both off-track and live race wagering is permitted by law and the thoroughbred horse racing industry is flourishing. Unfortunately, international racing opportunities are limited by an endemic disease which affects horses living on the African continent. African Horse Sickness (AHS) is a severe and sometimes fatal disease which attacks the upper respiratory system and circulatory system. Though the disease is not contagious, it is easily and quickly spread by culicoides midges who become infected after biting an infected horse and who then go on to infect healthy horses. While horses can be immunized against the disease, there are nine different strains of the disease and the vaccine is not 100% effective. Though most horses are immunised on a yearly basis, many still die from the disease each season. Interestingly enough, the only species of equine resistant to the disease is the zebra. The prevalence of this disease severely limits the exportation of horses in general, though certain AHS free zones have been established in an attempt to overcome this obstacle.

Because of this, you will seldom see or hear of South African race horses racing in American or European races. A number can be exported to Asian countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong where quarantine is less lengthy and often a lot of the country’s best horses will enjoy a short career in international racing in these countries before retirement. If you simply love the sport, why not catch a few horse races in South Africa? The bigger race days come highly recommended.


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