Unique Desert Horse Racing in South Africa
The most interesting horse race in South Africa has to be the annual Bray July Horse Race, which takes place in the midwinter months of June or July, in an obscure area of the North West Province of South Africa, close to the border of the neighbouring country, Botswana.
Started in 1996, this event has grown into the biggest race in the country and the only horse race in this province and manages to attract riders and mounts from some of the top racing stables all over the country, including the renowned Turffontein and Vaal race clubs.
The uniqueness of a Kalahari desert sand horse race
What makes this event so unique, apart from its location, is that it operates outside of the regular, sometimes insular, horse racing fraternity in the country. Horses come from prime breeding stables as well as from local farms and community owners and jockeys range from professionals to first timers. It’s anybody and everybody’s race, with a healthy purse of around $20 000.
Local jockeys get the opportunity to be taken to Kimberley and other race courses for training. Many of the newly trained jockeys subsequently leave the area to work and race professionally in areas like Kimberly and the Vaal race track, some 500 kilometers away
The organizers of the event have funding in place to train two local jockeys per year and a youth program through which children can train with their eyes for future employment in the horse racing world.
A North West province town that struggles for survival
Bray is a dismal area at first glance. Dry, dusty and stiflingly hot in the summer months, it is an area of minimal development and extreme rural poverty. As a service to its community and in an attempt to uplift local living standards, the Bray Recreational club started this horse race, the main event of which is run over 2000 meters across the red sands of the Kalahari desert.
The Bray July is a major tourist attraction, especially for 4 x 4 enthusiasts and lovers of the wild, exposing them to various attractions of the pristine North West rural area and the true spirit of the South African outback.Tourists from neighboring countries Botswana and Namibia pass through Bray and the Bray Border post, making this unique event a stopover point.
Accommodation for the annual Bray July race
With unique camping facilities in the red Kalahari sand, a very safe environment for children and nature lovers., the tourism industry in the Bray area gets a major economic boost with huge food and fuel sales, and local hospitality enterprises, especially in local Game Lodges and on Safari farms, experiencing capacity bookings.