The annual Vodacom Durban July (VDJ) horse race will take place as a broadcast-only event behind closed doors, organisers said on Thursday. 

Organisers would also ensure that the event took place with strict adherence to Covid-19 mandated health protocols. 

“Gold Circle, together with the ongoing support of the company’s valued sponsor Vodacom, is fully committed to running the 2020 Vodacom Durban July. Sadly, given the reality of the present circumstances, the race meeting will be staged behind closed doors and without spectators,” said Gold Circle CEO Michel Nairac. 

An aerial shot of the Vodacom Durban July tin 2019. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

“The VDJ has enjoyed an uninterrupted history since first being run in 1897 – not even two world wars prevented the race from being run – and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that 2020 is not the exception,” he added.

The proposed date for the race was Saturday July 25, but the “extremely fluid nature of the current pandemic” meant the date could change according to circumstances, said Nairac.  

Vodacom’s executive head of sponsorship, Michelle van Eyden, said any decisions about the race would be made “as a responsible company committed to the safety of all who are involved”. 

South Africa – Durban – 06 July 2019 – The theme for the 2019 Vodacom Durban July, inviting the stars of the racing and social world to the big day at Greyville Racecourse. Released every year to set the tone for the rolling programme of fashion events that precede the raceday and to guide the fashion and decor on the day itself, the theme is the handiwork of Gold Circle’s Event Marketing. Model Yajna Debideen. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA).

“As a sponsor, we will work together with all relevant stakeholders and be guided by the horse racing fraternity and the experts in this industry, as well as in government, as we all work towards making this year’s race a reality,” she said.