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Legislate winning from Wylie Hall in a controversial finish - Image Credit Gold Circle Dubbed 'Africa's Greatest Horseracing Event' and attracting over 50 000 people each year, the Vodacom Durban July, held on the first Saturday of July each year (except for the 2010 Soccer World Cup), is certainly Durban's premier annual racing event.

The first July, run over 1600m (the distance was extended five times before reaching the current 2200m in 1970), took place in 1897 as the Durban Winter Handicap and since then, has developed in terms of distance, prize-money, entrants and sponsors. The name changed over the course of its history, to the Durban July Handicap in 1928, reverting to its original name during the Second World War (1943-5), back to the Durban July Handicap in 1946 before a major sponsorship was found.

From 1963 to 1989, everyone knew it as the Rothmans July Handicap before simplifying it to the Rothmans July. With the change in tobacco advertising, the 38 year long association came to an end, before the current sponsors, Vodacom came on board in 2002. The race is now entrenched as the Vodacom Durban July.

The first running attracted 500 sovereigns in prize-money. On offer in the 2011 Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July is R3 million. This year, 20 will take part, although the biggest field ever was 33 runners in 1917. The smallest fields were in 1897 and 1908, with seven horses running.

Looking over the history of the event, some interesting facts and figures emerge. One point to note is that there appears to be no perfect age at which a thoroughbred is entered to race. Ages range from two to seven years old and winners have come from all ages, although four years old seems to be the best age, accounting for 42 of the winners.

Only four horses have ever won the July back-to-back with El Picha (1999/2000) the most recent. The other three were Milesia Pride (1949/50), Corriecrian (1907/1908) and Campanajo (1897/98).

Sea Cottage is a name well-known in racing circles, certainly one of South Africa's greatest ever race horses. Sea Cottage and Jollify dead-heated in 1967, one of only two occurrences that the first two horses past the winning post came in together. The other was more recently, in 2008, when another legend, multiple J&B Met and Queens Plate winner Pocket Power and the grey filly, Dancers Daughter, dead-heated for first place.

The record for the most runs by any horse is shared by Gondolier and Beau Art who both ran five times, while Irish import, Flaming Rock took part in four Julys, winning at his first attempt in 1991. After placing in 1993 and 1994, he was retired to Stud.

Pocket Power and Dancers Daughter dead-heat in 2008. Image credit: Gold Circle While the greys have often been a sentimental favourite, there have been only five grey winners in the history of the race. Dancer's Daughter dead heated with Pocket Power in 2008, while previously Right Prerogative (1989), Jamaican Rumba (1982), Jamaican Music (1976) and Silver Phantom in 1942 achieved the feat. (Greys Inn (2005) is excluded because he was actually a dark bay colt!)

Another crowd favourite (especially amongst the fairer sex) is the filly or mare entrant, although, like the greys, they have a limit number of wins accrued over the years. Just 11 have won going back to Peerless in 1903. Since then there have been winners here and there with Ipi Tombe winning to great acclaim in 2002. The aforementioned Dancer's Daughter dead heat with Pocket Power in 2008 as the most recent win by a filly. S'Manga Khumalo made history by being the first black jockey to ride home a Vodacom Durban July winner, with Heavy Metal in 2013.
Pictured above are Wylie Hall and Legislate locked into battle before a controversial finish, which saw Legislate being awarded the winner.

The Winners:

Vodacom Durban July Winners - 1897 - 2013
2014LegislateR Fourie J Snaith
2013Heavy MetalS Khumalo S Tarry
2012PomodoraP Strydom S Tarry
2011IguguA Delpech M de Kock
2010Bold SilvanoA Delpech M de Kock
2009 Big City Life G Cheyne G Kotzen
2008 Pocket Power/Dancers Daughter B Fayd'Herbe/K Shea M Bass/J Snaith
2007 Hunting Tower A Marcus C Laird
2006 Eyeofthetiger G Schlechter D Kannemeyer
2005 Dunford A.Marcus M.Bass
2004 Greys Inn A. Delpech M de Kock
2003 Dynasty R Fradd D Kannemeyer
2002 Ipi Tombe K Shea M de Kock
2001 Trademark P Strydom M Bass
2000 El Picha A Marcus GV Woodruff
1999 El Picha R Hill GV Woodruff
1998 Classic Flag A Delpech DE Ferraris
1997 Super Quality M Roberts DE Ferraris
1996 London News P Strydom AG Laird
1995 Teal J Geroudis PB Shaw
1994 Space Walk R Fradd MH Maingard
1993 Dancing Duel A Marcus AT Millard
1992 Spanish GalliardR Sham DR Drier
1991 Flaming Rock K Niesius RC Snaith
1990 Ilustrador F Coetzee TM Millard
1989 Right Prerogative M Sutherland TM Millard
1988 Royal Chalice F Coetzee TM Millard
1987 Bush Telegraph G Puller B Abercrombie
1986 Occult B Leisher TM Millard
1985 Gondolier W Harvey MP Antelme
1984 Devon Air F Coetzee TM Millard
1983 Tecla Bluff M Sutherland TM Millard
1982 Jamaican Rumba P Wynne G Thompson
1981 Big Charles J Anderson LF Naude
1980 Beau Art F Macaskill J Nicholson
1979 Over The Air G Puller P Kannemeyer
1978 Politician B Hayden SC Laird
1977 Lightning Shot D Mustard D Rich
1976 Jamaican Music B Abercrombie R Rixon
1975 Principal Boy R Thompson J Breval
1974 Riboville M Schoeman G Azzie
1973 Yataghan B Hayden SC Laird
1972 In Full Flight R Rhodes D Payne
1971 Mazarin B Hayden SC Laird
1970 Court Day C Maree R Knight
1969 Naval EscortA Reid F Rickaby
1968 Chimboraa D Payne B Cherry
1967 Sea Cottage/Jollify R Sivewright/J Gorton SC Laird/F Rickaby
1966 Java Head H Cawcutt SC Laird
1965 King Willow J Bailey J Breval
1964 Numeral R Rhodes G Azzie
1963 Colorado King R Sivewright SC Laird
1962 Diza A Roberts J Gorton
1961 Kerason G Walker S Laird
1960 Left Wing P Cayeux S Garrett
1959 Tiger Fish B Little T Furness
1958 Excise H Cawcutt W Cawcutt
1957 Migraine H Passmore F Chappell
1956 Spey Bridge C Buckham H Amos
1955 Preto's Crown H Wright G Azzie
1954 C'est Si Bon J Byrnes D Labistour
1953 Flash On J Westwater W Hucknell
1952 Mowgli B Lewis G Ellis
1951 Gay Jane V McMurtry D Labistour
1950 Milesia Pride B Lewis J Morrison
1949 Milesia Pride H Wright J Morrison
1948 Monasterevan C Buckham E Shaw
1947 Brookhill H Wright T Potgeiter
1946 St Pauls G Foster D Talbert
1945 St Seiriol J Butler C Longhurst
1944 Monteith H Berry C Clutterbuck
1943 Piccadilly Jim H Feldman C Wade
1942 Silver Phantom H Wright E Shaw
1941 Sandri ll S Amos S Garrett
1940 Kipling A Gorton A Cruickshank
1939 Silver Spear H Feldman L Howe
1938 Extinguisher ll C Barends W Krog
1937 Ballyjamesduff G Masterson J Azzie
1936 Pietersfield ll L Fernandes E Shaw
1935 Eccentric G Askew A Rowe
1934 Sun Tor A Rugg J Angles
1933 Legacy E Lariviere P Henwood
1932 Findhorn S Johnson E Ryan
1931 Agrippa R de Valle W Pickering
1930 Full Dress H Amos S Garrett
1929 Gifted G Lariviere W Jackson
1928 Glen Albyn A Herschell G Weale
1927 Hussein G Gorton C Wade
1926 Moosme E Jacobie W Knapp
1925 Bird of Prey I Strydom W Randall
1924 Oriel J Lieveaux E Ryan
1923 Eunomea J Otto J Russell
1922 Collet F McGrath J Gard
1921 Longstop L Fernades G Weale
1920 Pamphlet S Garrett J Russell
1919 Goldwing S Garrett J Russell
1918 Pamphlet C Bowles J Russell
1917 Fanous W Crew P Liddle
1916 Margin W Clements A Townsend
1915 Winnipeg R Forsyth H de Mestre
1914 Rhanleigh R Dine W Randall
1913 Caged Bird W Crew F Murray
1912 Lombard I Strydom F Murray
1911 Nobleman A Laird F Murray
1910 Sir Caulin E Hardy F Murray
1909 King's Favourite C Clark H de Mestre
1908 Corriecrian W Pickering F Wase
1907 Corriecrian C Yarnlee F Wade
1906 Bonnie Dundee W Pickering W Pickering
1905 Chere Amie J McLauchlan R Wooton
1904 Nymagee W Clements W Meredith
1903 Peerless J White J White
1902 Chaos G Bowker W Henwood
1901 Apollo C MacDonald H Croon
1900 Verdant Green C MacDonald H Croon
1899 Talma J Boardman H Taylor
1898 Campanajo G Tonge R Scott
1897 Campanajo R Scott E Murray