The launch of the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge was fittingly held in the Hollywoodbets Greyville parade ring today and it was announced that the stake for the prestigious Grade 1 weight for age event would rise from R500,000 to R1 million which makes it the current second richest race in the country behind the Vodacom Durban July.

The sponsorship is a continuation of the partnership between the racing operator Gold Circle and Hollywoodbets which is mutually beneficial and grows year by year.
Hollywoodbets' brand and communications manager Devin Heffer paid tribute to the previous sponsor of this event, Rising Sun, who transformed the meeting into one of KZN's most well attended social gatherings. He said Hollywoodbets would continue from where Rising Sun left off.
However, first and foremost, he said Hollywoodbets saw their sponsorship of the race day as an opportunity to include their business partners the Dolphins, the Sharks, La Liga, East Coast Radio, SuperSport, Rising Sun, Amazulu FC Community Trust and the Lighthouse Foundation.
All of these partners are to be given naming rights for the meeting.
Heffer said their involvement would lead to a lot of newcomers being exposed to the world of horses and horseracing and he hoped the passion racing fans have for their sport and for its key participant, the horse, would rub off on them.
Last year the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge was ranked South Africa's leading Grade 1 contest and was put alongside Australia’s richest weight-for-age contest, the prestigious W.S. Cox Plate, on the pattern race ratings of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).
The race has its 50th renewal on June 12 this year and has a roll of honour which reads virtually as a who's who of great horses in South Africa over the last five decades.
The great Sentinel was the first to win it in 1972 and he won it again in 1973. In fact virtually every winner of the first 16 renewals of the race could genuinely be called "great" including Yataghan, Sledgehammer, Gatecrasher, Politician, Over The Air (X 3), Wolf Power (X 2), Spanish Pool (X 2), Fools Holme and Model Man. Over The Air was one of two horses alongside Flaming Rock to win it three times and other great victors include Pas De Quoi, Jet Master, Free My Heart (X 2), Yard-Arm, Dancer's Daughter, Pocket Power, Big City Life and Variety Club (X 2). The last two respective winners, Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge, also fit into that bracket.
Hollywoodbets founder Owen Heffer's passion for horseracing began at Greyville so yesterday's event had special significance. His involvement in the game started in 1986 when he began distributing a race form card called Winning Form and back then he could hardly have imagined one day owning a company which not only partners with many local concerns but also with a racecourse in Ireland (Dundalk), an English football team (Brentford) and with one of the biggest football leagues in the world, Spain's La Liga.
Devin, who is the son of Owen, said in his travels around the globe to various racecourses he was yet to come across a parade ring as beautiful as Hollywoodbets' Greyville's.
Owen came from an age when sport and horseracing had strong links, particularly in Durban.
This could be seen in a Facebook post made by former Natal cricketers during lockdown. They named the various extra roles the team members had and included was the following: "Horse Racing Analysts: Neville Daniels and Tich Smith to keep Proccie up to date whilst on the field." 
Owen and Devin appear determined to get horseracing back to where it was in KZN as a pastime that was regularly on the edge of any conversation. In those times a day at the races was as common place as a day at the beach. 
Sportsmen were particularly close followers and the recent win of the Hollywoodbets Syndicate horse Shampompo Shampizi, named by the recently late Xhosa rugby commentator Kaunda Ntunje, is an example of Hollywoodbets efforts to rebuild these bridges.  
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