By Staff Reporter
FNB Namibia announced its sponsorship of N$600 000 to the Okahatjipara Turf Club, over the period of 3 years, to host its annual July Handicap.
Private horse racing clubs have managed to raise funds, up to N$50 000 in 2015 and 2016 to host the July Handicap Gobabis and in 2017 managed to get FNB and Global Diamond Valuators to sponsor the event, raising in excess of N$100 000.
The event has become a sought after one on the events calendar and horse racing enthusiasts eagerly moved to the venue at the Okahatjipara Turf Club at Okakarara in 2018.
“We were looking for a permanent structure to host the July Handicap, so we spoke to the councillor of the Okakarara constituency Vetaruhe Kandorozu, and he agreed to give us land for this purpose. FNB Namibia also sponsored it last year, and they were pleased with the support and growth of the event, and after further negotiations, they decided to come on board with a three-year sponsorship,” Kasuto has said.
“It is one of the best-attended sporting events in the region, and with thousands of people in attendance, it’s an experience like no other,” commented Leslie Puriza of FNB, noting that the Bank was privileged to be the main sponsor of the event.
“When we started the Professor Supporters Club in 2015, we were new in the business, and it (our own turf club) was still just a dream. But we used our own funds to start the July Handicap, and since then it has grown steadily,” said Timo Mujeu, CEO of Professor Supporters Club.
“The problem at Gobabis was that we didn’t have a permanent structure. The property belonged to the Namibian Defence Force, and we always had to remove our structures after the event. Son we established the Okahatjipara Turf Clubn and now the infrastructure can remain there,” he further added.
“We are expecting between 8 000 and 10 000 fans for the July Handicap. We’ve heard about the poor attendances at soccer matches, but with horse racing it’s different. The people will come, all we needed was a sponsor.”
President of the Namibia Horse Racing Association (NHRA), Johan de Waal, said they were proud of the club’s achievement, as well as the work done by the Professor Supporters Club.
“We have 14 club members, and the Okahatjipara Turf Club is one of the biggest clubs under our control. Timo is one of the driving forces of the club, and it’s always a pleasure to be there, and the races are always very well-organised,” he added.
The FNB July Handicap will be held on Saturday, 27 July, with 18 races scheduled.
N$200 000 of the sponsored amount will go towards the 18 races, with the horse owners receiving the winnings proportionally.
According to the Association’s rules, jockeys receive N$300 for winning, N$200 for second place and N$100 for third.
Kandorozu expressed some misgivings at the event stating that, “we have heard of occasions where owners beat their jockeys, or of payment issues. So, there is still huge victimisation of jockeys, and these issues need to be addressed.
The lifestyle of our jockeys must be almost equivalent to that of our soccer players,” he said, adding that they should look into starting a jockey federation to fight for their rights.