- KwaZulu Royals win the fourth and final showdown in the new Global Team Horse Racing series (GTH)
- Winners take home coveted series title
- Stakeholders assess series success as positive and express hope for the future
HOLLYWOODBETS GREYVILLE, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: THE KWAZULU Royals defeated the Cape Stingers by 40 points in the final showdown of the 2022 Global Team Horse Racing (GTH) Live Series last Friday evening, September 2, 2022. The gripping new series has been underway in Durban since August.
As the champions, the KwaZulu Royals ride away with the 2022 GTH Live Series Champions title.
Led by Summerveld trainer Wendy Whitehead and team captain Muzi Yeni, the Royals were the favourites to win with 92% of the vote in an online poll by GTH before the final race meeting.
Yeni, who has numerous Grade 1 races under his belt, rode alongside teammates Kabelo Matsunyane; Raymond Danielson; Jeffrey Syster; Ashton Arries; Thabiso Gumede; Athandiwe Mgudlwa; Jabu Jacobs; and Nicholas Patel during the series. Reserve jockey Keagan de Melo substituted for Jacobs on Friday night.
Kabelo Matsunyane riding for the KwaZulu Royals was awarded the 2022 series’ Night Rider trophy, hand carved by Josphat Phiri, a Durban artist, as well as R30 000 in award money for accumulating the most points during the series. Runner-up Athandiwe Mgudlwa earned R20 000 and third-place jockey, Rachel Venniker, received R10 000.
GTH is an exciting new style of team-based thoroughbred horse racing. Similar to T20 cricket competitions, teams score points throughout the series and the 2 teams with the most points compete in the final to determine the series winner.
This year, three teams – the Cape Stingers, KwaZulu Royals and Gauteng Gijimaz – took part.
GTH Marketing Director, Angus Campbell, said, condensed into 2.5 hours each week, the series’ format was fast-paced and exhilarating. “It has attracted both new and hardened horse racing fans. We hope to be able to build on this year’s progress at future events in and outside of South Africa,” he said.
On the final night, Athandiwe Mgudlwa riding Teichman scored a crucial 46 points in race 8 to secure his team’s win. KwaZulu Royals’ team captain, Muzi Yeni, said: “GTH gave a chance to young riders to ride in quality races which exposed us to nice up-and-coming talent which has put a spark in our racing.”
UK Co-Founders Steve Ajax and Charles Palmer keenly followed the series online and were eager to visit South Africa to experience the final. “We loved how the series turned out but couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves at Greyville”, enthused Steve Ajax. Charles Palmer continued, “The final event had an energy and level of excitement that makes us feel extremely positive for the future of horse racing”.
Gold Circle contributed R500 000 in stakes for this year’s runners. Stephen Marshall, Gold Circle Event and Marketing Executive, was convinced the series could be scaled up in the future. “The idea of GTH is based on sponsorship racing and teams, much like Formula 1. It is fast-paced, with races every 10 to 20 minutes. We have made it work and allowing more jockeys an opportunity to ride, which is broadening the pool.”
And like Formula 1, he said GTH was also bringing jockeys into the public eye by bringing them on stage and interviewing them. Marshall said: “For KwaZulu-Natal and Gold Circle, we would definitely look at doing another series, but that would be up to the GTH crew, and we will have those discussions going forward.”
Gold Circle Racing Manager, Raf Sheik, believes there is also potential to bring GTH to other provinces. “We can build on it,” he said.
Sheik hoped there would be continuity and more support from the racing community going forward. He felt that the timing of future events would determine the involvement of more top horses and jockeys but urged racing’s other stakeholders: “We need new ideas. What we are doing day in and day out as an industry is not working; we need to support these events.”
Campbell concluded: “First, we will assess the success of the event and determine what appetite there is from racing SA to see future GTH team events hosted locally. We would like to say a big thank you to Gold Circle and the connections, trainers, owners, jockeys, team managers, and each of the incredible horses for their enthusiasm and phenomenal performances this year.”
For more information about GTH, visit www.gthracing.co.za.