ery little happens in Bray, a dorp in North West that lies along the Molopo River bordering Botswana.
But every July – in fact, building up from the end of June – the town comes alive when it hosts the Bray July, its version of the glamorous horse racing event held in Durban.
Unlike the Durban July, there’s very little fashion on display. The crowd consists mainly of farmers and farm workers, and the prize money for betting on the winning horse is a modest R20 000. Despite its humble set-up, the Bray July, which is also known as the Kalahari Experience, attracts horses from the Northern Cape, the Free State and even Botswana.
It’s a dusty affair and the hooves of participating horses leave a cloud of red as they thunder towards the finish line.
Musician Bonolo Molosiwa, who travelled almost 300km from her home town of Mahikeng to the Bray July, said she “enjoyed every moment”.
“The Bray July is definitely the best in its league. Everything, from the weather, the buzz and the humbling environment of cheering crowds – both black and white – completes an extraordinary day and exceptional bush experience,” she said.
Eleven-year-old aspiring jockey Neo Jansen, who is from a farm outside Bray, feels inspired every time he attends the Bray July.
“One day, I will be a jockey just like the older guys. I have started riding already and in three or four years, I should be able to compete,” he said.
APPLAUSE Spectators cheer during the Bray July, which is 200km from Vryburg and very close to the Botswana border
ON A HIGH A spectator climbs a tree to get a better view of the horses
SPLASH OF COLOUR Horse bridles are hung on barbed wire at the Bray July in preparation for the races