The capital city of South Africa, Cape Town, is home to the country’s oldest racecourse, Kenilworth Racecourse. This internationally renowned racecourse holds historical and cultural significance in the country and is one of the most unique racecourses in the region.
The racecourse facility is located on a historic piece of land, which is located in the middle of the buzzing Southern Suburbs in the city on Rosemead Avenue. Kenilworth racecourse is also home to the historic Kenilworth Racecourse Conversation Area (KRCA).
This nature reserve is present within the middle of the racecourse, and due to its strategic location, it has been left untouched for over a hundred years. Today the conservation is the world’s most preserved area of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos.
Kenilworth Racing owns the racecourse and the conservation area, as it acquired the Western Cape assets of Gold Circle, a horse racing controlling body in South Africa, in 2012. CapeNature, the City of Cape Town Nature Conservation, and Kenilworth Racing are jointly responsible for the management and protection of the KRCA as per an agreement formed in 2006.
While the popularity of the racecourse can be attributed to the Conservation Area, it is also significant for hosting some of the most prestigious horse racing events throughout the year, the most renowned being the Sun Met, which was previously known as the J&B Met.
Let’s explore a brief history of the Kenilworth racecourse history and its facilities.
Kenilworth Racecourse History
Kenilworth Racecourse has been operating for over 140 years; the turf was proclaimed in 1882. In those days, a classroom behind the Cedar House School’s central building was used as a stable for the horses competing on the racing track.
The facility hosted the first race, the Metropolitan Mile, in 1883. It is a Grade 1 race run over a distance of 2000m with a weight for age condition. Today the Metropolitan Mile has become the most prestigious race and is called the Sun Met. This race is comparable to the Ladies Day at Ascot and is considered the Richest Race Day in Africa.
In the olden days, the ladies used to wear extravagant dresses and adorned fancy hats, while the men dressed up in tuxedos and stiff hats to look the part in the extravagant affair. Currently, the racing event features an impressive line-up of the country’s top musicians and DJs, while many renowned international celebrities and A-list personalities are in attendance. The event also features themed fashion shows, a competition for the best-dressed attendee, and an after-party that is the talk of the town for the rest of the year.
The Sun Met was held for the 160th time in January 2022. Before 2017, it was called the J&B Met, and when Sun International took over the race sponsorship, its name was changed to Sun Met.
Kenilworth Racecourse facilities
Kenilworth racecourse is one of the two racecourses in West Africa and one of the ten in all of South Africa. It is located at a distance of 20 minutes from Cape Town International Airport.
The racecourse is spread over an area of 52 hectares and is a left-handed course where races occur in a counter-clockwise direction. The surroundings of the racecourse are surreal as you can see the majestic Table Mountain in the background, while in the front, the racecourse looks at the vast expanse of the Hottentots Holland range.
However, the visual appeal of the racecourse does not rest on its geographical aesthetics only. The racecourse has an efficient and impressive physical design that complements the surroundings. The facility features a club stand and the grandstand, which is updated on a regular basis. The two facilities are set in a park-like ambience, providing a beautiful view. In addition to the races, the racecourse also features excellent catering and betting facilities.
There are three tracks on the Kenilworth Racecourse. There is a straight sprint track which is 1200m long. The other two tracks are round in shape and have a circumference of 2700m and 2800m, respectively. The three tracks converge in the front of the grandstand and give the racecourse a unique appearance.
In addition to prestigious racing events, Kenilworth Racecourse is also popular for its extravagant events. The venue is ideal for seminars, cocktail parties, banquets, conferences, and product launches. The venue features premium bars and sitting areas which are ideal for hosting any kind of occasion. The racecourse even has an in-house catering team to facilitate the clients.
In 1882, the racecourse site was recognised as one of 35 main botanical sites in the country. The KRCA is now an invaluable piece of land as it serves as a reserve for the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world in such large numbers.
The area has 16 seasonal wetlands and is home to 310 plant types. Of these plant species, around 34 are endangered, while two are widespread but only found in the Conservation Area.
The KRCA is also home to the endangered Cape Platanna and the micro frog. These are among the nine endangered amphibian species found at KRCA. The reserve also houses many birds, reptiles, and mammals.
Who won the Sun Met in 2022?
The Sun Met took place for the 160th time in 2022. Kommetdieding won the race, and the prize money was worth 5m Rand.
What is the ticket price of Sun Met?
The general ticket price for the Sun Met starts at R150.