Vaal Horse Racing, Saturday 30th August 2014

vaal races

I’ve been making a bit of progress in my quest to get around all of the South African racecourses. There’s only eleven, so it’s not too onerous a task, and at the weekend we ticked off number four, Vaal.

Vaal is a couple of hours away from our house in Bronkhorstspruit and it was the second time in a week that we’d headed down that way. The previous weekend had been spent on the Vaal River, driving a boat around. We’d slept on it too, dropping anchor in the middle of nowhere on the first night and then tying it to the jetty of a restaurant on the second evening.

Tying it to reeds wasn't too successful.

Tying it to reeds wasn’t too successful.

It was quite a relaxing way to spend a couple of days, especially as we didn’t fall overboard once in the whole weekend. We had otters swimming up to the boat and then a carp feeding at the surface on bread that I’d thrown in for the ducks. There were also a few deer of some sort popping down to the riverbank in the early morning for a drink.

I'd guess at a 'big-horned waterbok'.

I’d guess at a ‘big-horned waterbok’.

This weekend we stayed in a hotel, which was less interesting, but better for not drowning and handier for the track . I’d had the date marked on my ‘to-do‘ spreadsheet for a while, mainly because there only looks to be a couple of weekend race meetings at Vaal each year.

The Main Stand.

The Main Stand.

As with most of the South African racecourses, admission was free. There wasn’t much of a crowd, maybe fifty or so sat in the sunshine outside and perhaps a hundred in the four storey building by the finishing post.

In front of the Main Stand.

In front of the Main Stand.

We made our way up to the Members Lounge where we were able to secure a table complete with a telly for watching races from Turffontein and Sandown. I doubt we’d have got anywhere near the lounge on busier days but on this occasion it all worked out very well.

Inside the Members Lounge.

Inside the Members Lounge.

We’d timed things nicely for the food too, with a three course meal on offer for seven quid. The starters were nothing special but there was an outside braai that served beef, pork and lamb followed by old school sponge pudding and custard. I was happy enough with that.

Outside for the food.

Outside for the food.

The racing was on the sand track, which I tend to associate with lower grade horses. Most of the ones that we backed certainly seemed lower grade, or at least lower than the other horses in their races. We had a couple of winners to offset the donkeys though and didn’t finish too far down on the day.

Overall it was another good afternoon out, particularly as we were able to take advantage of the Members facilities without any questions being asked. Maybe we’ll try the owners and trainers area next time.


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