The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation (KZNDSR) in conjunction with Rural Horse Riding Association (RHRA) have successfully hosted the 7th edition of the Harry Gwala Summer Cup. This year's event took place on Saturday (21/11) and was finalised on Sunday (22/11) at Kilmon near Underberg under the Harry Gwala District Municipality.
The event is still at a smaller scale compared to its sister race, the Dundee July horse riding competition which is already enjoying national coverage. Scores of fans and hopefuls gathered in numbers to witness and participate in this fast growing event which exposes local talent including jockeys, horse trainers and owners.
The welfare of participating horses is prioritised, with race partners Coastal Care Unit conducting a thorough inspection of the horses before each race. Those found not to be in a good condition were scrapped from participating.
The event consisted of six races (Grade 6 to Grade 1) with horses graded according to their previous performances. The higher grades being the slowest horses and the lower grades being the fastest horses. This was determined based on results at local competitions building up to this district level competition.
MEC for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha said the Department has invested a lot in promoting this rural horse riding parade and will continue to do so.
“Approximately 160 horses were registered this year which signals a significant growth of this event. The Department aims to increase the stake money for the rural horse riding events because we understand that raising a horse is more costly compared to other domestic animals. We will engage with the private sector to ensure that we grow this brand,” she said.
She said the Department is promoting rural horse riding as part of an overall vision to encourage the youth to become involved in sport and recreation activities, thus contributing to the elimination of social ills like drugs and alcohol abuse.
Grade 1 winner Mzamo 'Plaza' Mtshali (24) could not contain his excitement as he galloped around the race track with his 5-year-old stallion. The Jockey reiterated that his horse Sgwebosentambo was a force to be reckoned with and no stranger to winning.
“I am ecstastic we sealed yet another big win. We did likewise recently at a local horse riding competition held at eDumbe Municipality. We also won the 2014 Dundee July. This has only strengthened our bond and made us a formidable pair,” he said.
Amajuba District were crowned overall winners with 12 points, followed by Zululand District by nine points and lastly Thukela got six points.
The race was initially scheduled for one day but could not be completed due to thick mist on Saturday afternoon.
Mr Mzonzima Siwela who is the founder and chairperson of Rural Horse Riding Association was the lead technical official for this opulent event. He said the Grade 1 race had to be suspended and only finalised on Sunday morning.
Ingwe Local Municipality, which will be merged with adjacent KwaSani Local Municipality after next year’s Municipal elections, announced that there are plans to further develop the Kilmon facility and to grow the event as part of the tourism offering for the area.