The Summer Cup, Gauteng's most famous horseracing event takes place in the last week of November, which is sponsored by Sansui, is nearly as old as Johannesburg itself and has a rich and fascinating history.

Turffontein Racecourse Stand Aerial

It was first run in 1887, a year after the dusty mining camp that was to become Johannesburg sprang up on the farm Turffontein following the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand.

No one could have envisaged then that the Summer Cup would become one of South Africa's most famous racing events. In its heyday the Summer Cup was the highlight of the Johannesburg feature-race season and one of the city's social events of the year.

Turffontein Racecourse Stand

Only a few minutes from Johannesburg city centre, there are two grass tracks at Turffontein. The Standside Track is an oval grass track with a 2800m circumference. All races over 800m, 1000m and 1200m are run on the straight course, which joins the oval circuit at about the 800m mark. Races beyond 1200m are run clockwise round the turn. The track rises sharply on the final bend from the 1400m mark to the 800m mark, making it the most testing racecourse in the country. Starting stall draws are on no account in races down the straight. Low numbers are slightly favoured in races round the turn, particularly over 1400m and to a lesser extent over 1600m. The existing track at Turffontein is regarded as the fairest racecourse in South Africa.

The Inside Track is inside the existing track. All races are run round the turn, which is cambered and not as steep on the final bend as the existing track.

Turffontein Racecourse Track
Inside Track

The Turffontein inside track consists of a 2500m turf oval. It shares a common back straight with the Standside track. All races are run clockwise around the turn with a run-in of slightly less than 500m. The track rises 10m from the 1400m to the 500m marks. Low-number draws are favoured over 1000m and 1200m.

Standside Track

The Turffontein standside track consists of a 2700m oval. Races up to 1200m are run on the straight course. Races further than 1200m are run clockwise around the turn with an 800m run-in. The track rises 12m from the 1600m to 800m marks, making it the most testing circuit in SA. Low-number draws are preferable over 1400m and 1600m, while over other distances draws are generally of little account.

 

Links:

A Century of Pioneering - Turffontein Racing Club