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Champions Day at the Big T: Centre of the racing universe

The Championships and 4Racing dive into Hong Kong’s World Pool.

by Mike Moon (The Citizen)

The minds and money of millions of punters, in 28 countries around the world, will be focused on Joburg’s Turffontein Racecourse on Saturday 6 April, Champions Day, which has been chosen as a World Pool event by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Wagers on the first 10 races on the day’s card will be comingled into gigantic international pools by the HKJC, “generating unprecedented liquidity” and “a multimillion-dollar betting experience” according to Highveld racing operator 4Racing, which unveiled its 2024 The Championships season on Thursday.

Turffontein’s annual autumn feature season has been repackaged as The Championships, with particular marketing emphasis on four major race meetings – Guineas Day this Saturday, Classic Day on 2 March, Champions Day, and the Championships Finale on 27 April.

And the first three meetings also make up the Triple Crown and the Triple Tiara series for top three-year-old horses.

The HKJC has in recent years selected prestigious race meetings around the world for its increasingly popular World Pool initiative, with the Durban July and the Cape Town Met fixtures staging some comingled races.

The HKJC’s partnerships with, and financial support for, South African horseracing has been invaluable to a local industry still recovering from an existential crisis.

Michael Fitzsimons, executive director of wagering products of the HKJC, commented on the tie-up: “We’re delighted to be further strengthening our ties with South African racing this season, with the inclusion of Champions Day from Turffontein as a World Pool event for the first time, which will give customers from 28 countries the chance to bet on South African racing as well as access to unrivalled pools.

“World Pool’s involvement on Champions Day – part of the excellent 4Racing The Championships initiative – also seeks to raise the profile of a key race in the South African calendar and showcase high-quality action from an increasingly important racing jurisdiction.”

Racing CEO Fundi Sithebe said: “We are thrilled to present a season that not only showcases the peak of South African horseracing, but also delivers an unparalleled global experience for punters and racegoers.

“The inclusion of Champions Day as a World Pool event elevates the stakes and is an enticing opportunity for punters to engage like never before. We welcome the Hong Kong Jockey Club to this amazing season and look forward to a spectacular World Pool event.”

At the launch of The Championships at Randjesfontein training centre, a new punter competition was also unveiled, the TAB4Racing Champion of The Championships, with a R100,000 bonus prize for anyone who can top the leaderboard on all four days of the season.

The prize for the overall winner is R10,000, with R5,000 for second and R2,500 for third. To enter this competition, go to https://www.tab4racing.com/tabs/competitions/296

For information on 4Racing’s hospitality offerings, contact 011 681 1796 or email PennyM@4Racing.com

The Championships

Day 1: Guineas Day, 3 February

· Grade 2 TAB Gauteng Guineas (1600m)

· Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas (1600m)

Day 2: Classic Day, 2 March

· Grade 1 H F Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes (1600m)

· Grade 1 SA Classic (1800m)

· Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic (1800m)

· Grade 3 JJ The Jet Plane Stakes (1000m)

· Listed races: Acacia Stakes (1600m); Storm Bird Stakes(1000m); Ruffian Stakes (1000m)

Day 3: Champions Day, 6 April, World Pool event

· Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge (2000m)

· Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes (1600m)

· Grade 1 SA Derby (2450m)

· Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Computaform Sprint (1000m)

· Grade 2 races: Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks (2450m); Hawaii Stakes (1400m); SA Nursery (1160m); SA Fillies Nursery (1160m)

· Listed Caradoc Gold Cup (2850m)

Day 4: The Championships Finale, 27 April

· Grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes (1160m)

· Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes (2000m)

· Grade 2 Camellia Stakes (1160m)

· Graded Igugu Stakes (2000m)

· Grade 3 races: Protea Stakes (1100m); Pretty Polly Stakes (1100m)

· Listed Gold Bowl – The Staying Championship (3200m)