Green light for horse-race nights

The appeal against environmental approval for the installation of floodlights at Turffontein has been dismissed by the Gauteng MEC for agriculture, conservation and environment. It is hoped that the first night meeting will be held at the track as early as October this year.

The appeal against environmental approval for the installation of floodlights at Turffontein has been dismissed by the Gauteng MEC for agriculture, conservation and environment. It is hoped that the first night meeting will be held at the track as early as October this year.

Phumelela chief executive Jim Tennant said the green light for night racing at Turffontein was great news all round for the horseracing industry.

"Night racing at Turffontein means more races, more prize money and many exciting marketing opportunities. Installation of the lights will begin as soon as possible. The project team will have to be reassembled and the project will have to be costed again," Tennant said.

"Construction should begin in the next six to eight weeks and it might be possible to have night racing by October, depending on the availability of the various contractors," he added.

Chairman of the Racing Association that represents racehorse owners in Phumelela regions, Larry Wainstein, also reacted enthusiastically to the news.

"It's fantastic news for racing. Nearly 20 race meetings have been lost as a result of the delay in introducing night racing at Turffontein, which has cost the industry tens of millions of rand. Night racing has always been popular with racegoers and the investment Phumelela has made in improving facilities at Turffontein will enhance the entire experience of racing under lights," he said.

Turffontein has been the home of horseracing in Johannesburg virtually since the city's birth back in 1886 and is ideally suited to night racing because of its combination of private boxes and numerous trackside venues.

Major races run at the venue include the R3,5m Gommagomma Challenge, the R2m Steinhoff International Summer Cup and the R1,2m SA Classic.

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