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4Racing has announced the publication of the Highveld programme, which includes a number of updates to refresh and add interest to the forthcoming season.

These include changes to the feature race placement and flow, as well as a number of feature race name changes to pay homage to our racing greats.  Most importantly, these are accompanied by significant increases to both major and minor feature race stakes.


The 2024 Highveld Championships Series will be held over 4 race days comprising a number of significant changes as follows:-

  • 3 February 2024 – Guineas Day
  • 2 March 2024 – Classic Day (now including the Horse Chestnut Stakes & Tommy Hotspur Stakes (renamed JJ The Jet Plane Stakes)
  • 6 April 2024 – Champions Day (now including Premier’s Champions Challenge & Empress Club Stakes)
  • 27 April 2024 – Championships Finale

The first important change to note is the movement of the Horse Chestnut Stakes and Tommy Hotspur Stakes (renamed JJ The Jet Plane Stakes) to Classic Day on 2 March 2024.

Champions Day moves to 6 April 2024 and now boasts 4 Grade 1’s on the day with the line up including the SA Derby, the Premier’s Champions Challenge, Computaform Sprint and Empress Club Stakes as well as the SA Oaks, Caradoc Gold Cup, Hawaii Stakes, SA Nursery and SA Fillies Nursery.

The Championships Finale will be held on 27 April and offer 7 feature races namely the Grade 2 Senor Santa, Colorado King, Gerald Rosenberg Stakes and the Camelia Stakes as well as the Gr3 Protea Stakes and Pretty Polly Stakes and the Listed Gold Bowl.

4Racing’s Head of Operations Gabriel Soma explained, “The changes in our feature race program were made for a number of key reasons, but providing a better flow of the program was essential. A number of feature races around the country are struggling to maintain their Graded Status as per the APC Guidelines and we are confident these changes will allow our features to meet the requirements needed to maintain their status.”

“In addition to adding gloss to our marquee race day, scheduling Champions Day a month earlier than normal allows for a better racing surface as well as making a clearer transition from the Highveld to the KZN season. It also allows us to maximise sponsorship opportunities, which is critical in continuing to grow our stakes on an annual basis.  Most importantly, the change avoids clashes with other major international fixtures, priming us for consideration for a World Pool event.”

“Lastly, these changes will allow us to create a mini winter season (programme to be announced in due course) with a three-year-old series comprising The Secretariat Stakes, Egoli Mile and Sea Cottage Stakes,” he concluded.


A number of races are receiving makeovers in the form of name changes to honour significant racing figures including the Mike De Kock Ipi Tombe Challenge, The Mary Slack SA Fillies Classic and the Dr Richard Maponya Handicap as well as a number of recent stand out track stars.

The full list is set out below:-

  • The Gardenia Stakes becomes the National Colour Stakes
  • The Syringa Handicap becomes the Summer Pudding Handicap
  • The Magnolia Handicap becomes the Carry On Alice Stakes
  • The Ipi Tombe Challenge becomes the Mike de Kock Ipi Tombe Challenge
  • The Jacaranda Handicap becomes the War Of Athena Handicap
  • The Tony Ruffel Stakes becomes the Got The Greenlight Stakes
  • The Three Troikas Stakes becomes the Mother Russia Stakes
  • The Drum Star Handicap becomes the Dr Richard Maponya Handicap
  • The Man O’War Sprint becomes the National Currency Sprint
  • The SA Fillies Classic becomes the Mary Slack SA Fillies Classic
  • The Tommy Hotspur Stakes becomes the JJ The Jet Plane Stakes
  • The Derby Trial becomes the Hawwaam Stakes
  • The Gold Rush Sprint becomes the Mythical Flight Sprint
  • The Gerald Rosenberg Stakes becomes the Igugu Stakes

Gabriel continued, “The horses that had races named after them were carefully selected for their racetrack brilliance – and achievements on the Highveld in particular – and we felt were deserving of the accolade.”

“Mike De Kock’s efforts to put South African horses and racing on the world map have been phenomenal and he is thoroughly deserving of having a race named after him.”

“Without the passion and generosity of Mary Slack, the survival of our industry would simply not be possible. It would be impossible to ever repay her kindness, but honoring her in this way was the very least we could do.”


“Last but not least, thanks to a huge team effort and generously increased sponsorship support, 4Racing is proud to be offer significant increases to both minor and feature race stakes for the forthcoming Highveld season,” added Gabriel.

“4Racing is making every effort to serve all the stakeholders in our value chain. While we will always push ourselves to keep improving, we are confident that we are making steady progress in achieving our goals.”