Can’t wait for the J&B Met? We’ve collected a few fascinating facts about the oldest horse race in the country (you see — fun fact right there) to get you pumped for the big day. These totally random facts might just be the conversation starter you’re looking for…
1. The oldest horse race in the country, the Metropolitan Mile, was originally run on the Green Point Common. The jockeys were English soldiers attached to the Cape Garrison.
2. Only one horse has won the J&B Met three years in a row. Pocket Power, trained by Mike Bass, won the J&B Met in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Prior to that, the record was held by Politician, a horse trained by Syd Laird that won the J&B Met in 1978 and 1979.
3. Kenilworth Racecourse, where the J&B Met is run, is unique in that it has three racetracks that all finish in front of the grandstands with one pull-up area. The racecourse is also situated on a 52-hectare nature reserve that is home to the most preserved section of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos in the world and hundreds of fauna species, including 20 on the endangered list.
4. The event has been postponed twice — once in 1986 due to equine flu, and once in 2004 as a result of African Horse Sickness.
5. J&B has been sponsoring the J&B Met since 1977. At first glance, 39 years may not seem like all that much, but this is actually the longest running sports sponsorship in the world!
6. The J&B Met packs quite an economic punch. Wesgro, the official destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape, estimated that the economic impact of the 2013 J&B Met for the City of Cape Town and the region was a whopping R68 million.
7. Over 300 different stores in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban get involved in promotional displays for the J&B Met. The event gives the South African fashion industry a big boost in what is traditionally one of its quietest months. Many South African designers dedicate entire ranges to the J&B Met.
8. Every Met Day each of the grooms at the Kenilworth Racecourse is given a special J&B Met overall, which is worn with pride for the rest of the year.
9. The numbers are superlative: the J&B Met attracts up to 50 000 guests, who arrive in approximately 20 000 vehicles. The J&B Met Hospitality Village provides over 2 500 guests with lunch and dinner.
10. In 2002, the gates were closed halfway through the afternoon and ‘house full’ signs were put up because no more people could safely be admitted to the venue.