4 Iconic Horse Races That Can’t Be Missed In South Africa

In South Africa, horse racing is among the most prominent and lucrative sports to watch. For the past three decades, top-tier horse racing has been held on this continent, with many of the world's wealthiest flat races taking place there. Here are the top four most famous horse races in South Africa, along with the months when they will be held in 2022.

Summer Cup

Summer Cup, also considered as eGoli’s oldest horse racing today, is held at the start of each summer. The event takes place at Turffontein, one of South Africa’s oldest courses, which is known for its dramatic finishes because of a hard ascent from the 1200 meter mark. This makes it one of the toughest tracks in the country, putting horses’ endurance to the test.

While race attracts the rich and famous, it is also suitable for families. On this day, there is a major carnival featuring a massive Ferris wheel, rides, buskers, and face painters for children.

Champions Challenge

At the end of April, Turffontein hosted South Africa’s version of the Breeders’ Cup. Premier’s Champions Challenge, formerly known as the Summer Handicap, is a major event on the schedule.

Champions Challenge may not have the same pedigree as the Sun Met, Queen’s Plate, or Durban July, but it has a rich history. Nonetheless, with a prize pool of R4 000,000, several of the sport’s greatest flat racers will be targeting this handicap, all in hopes of giving their connections a handsome payday.

Sun Met

Sun Met, dubbed Africa’s richest race since it offers the continent’s greatest payout, was held in late January at Kenilworth Race Course. Kenilworth is the country’s oldest racetrack, having opened in 1883 under the name Metropolitan Mile.

The event, which includes a combination of racing, fashion, and entertainment, can draw up to 70,000 attendees. Many racehorses have gone on to worldwide success.

The track is also special in that it incorporates a 130-acre protected area in the middle, which serves as critical habitat for a variety of endangered plant species, birds, and other creatures. L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate event is held in Kenilworth, and it comes on the heels of the racing the season before the Sun Met happens.

The tournament, which dates back to 1861 and demands guests to wear blue and white every year, is smaller and more elite than the Sun Met. A major race and a massive after-party take place on Saturday of the event, which is highlighted.

Durban July Handicap


Durban July Handicap is South Africa’s equivalent of Royal Ascot in the UK. The event has been conducted at Greyville Racecourse since 1897, and Queen Elizabeth II (a keen horse lover herself) has attended several times.

Needless to say, the event takes place every year in July, with anticipation mounting at the beginning of the month each year. Greyville is also significant for being the first racetrack in South Africa to have floodlights, allowing for nighttime racing.