winner Ring on parade

The new parade ring and winner's enclosure in front of the grandstand at Turffontein were used for the first time this Sunday ahead of the Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting on Saturday 29 November.

The new parade ring and winner's enclosure in front of the grandstand at Turffontein were used for the first time this Sunday ahead of the Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting on Saturday 29 November.

They are set to play a huge role in revitalising the entire racing experience at Phumelela's flagship racecourse.

Horses are still saddled in the boxes behind the old parade ring, but are then led by their handlers along a new walkway that takes them past the weighing room, under the grandstand and into the new parade ring.

The new walkway and parade ring boast state-of-the-art plastic pedestrian and running rails imported from France.

There is an island in the centre of the ring from which connections can safely view the runners, as well as enclosures for winners, runners-up and third-placed runners.

Jockeys of the first three runners home are ferried back to the weighing room by golf cart and post-race interviews are conducted in the new ring.

The Raceday Experience Committee (REC), which comprises Patrick Davis (horseracing executive), Robert Garner (marketing manager) and Neil Smith (event consultant) from Phumelela and Racing Association chairman and chief executive, Larry Wainstein and Clyde Basel respectively, has been the driving force behind the new parade ring.

"The old parade ring and winner's enclosure are steeped in tradition and obviously we are sad to see them go, but being located behind the grandstand resulted in many racegoers not being exposed to elements that are such an integral part of the racing experience," said Phumelela's Marketing and Communications Manager Robert Garner.

"In their new position all the between-races action is under the noses of racegoers and simultaneously they add enormous energy and excitement to the area in front of the stands, which is after all the horse racing stage," Garner added.

Turffontein has been a hive of activity in the past few months, not only to have the new parade ring operational for Summer Cup, but also the open-air decking in what was previously the upper level of seating on the first level of the grandstand.

A three-tier deck has been installed that will function as an open-air restaurant from where people can wine and dine, while taking in all the racing and parade-ring action right in front of them.

The roof of the grandstand provides shelter from the elements for the new decking, which is set to become a hugely popular area to race from in the summer months.

It will be used for the first time on Summer Cup day this Saturday.

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