Thousands of spectators graced the glitzy 2017Mascom Derby this past weekend and watched local jockeys dominate the event this year. Locally bred horses took turns in dominating most of the races in Maun, which is a stark contrast to previous years when foreign beast from Namibian and Lesotho jockeys stole the show.
Namibian horse which has been competing in the Mascom Derby since 2012 left their followers disappointed this year by not attending after failing to register on time due to unknown circumstances.
Nevertheless it was the horse from Charleshill named Antarctic Call and its talented jockey Khase Qama who salvaged local pride when it was crowned champion of the main event 2400 meters grand finale. The dominant thoroughbred beats also took position one in 1600 meters respectively. Another speedy horse named Jon Douglas from Charleshill came in second, followed by the aptly named Double Action in third place.
Most of the horses that made podium finishes were from the Charleshill area and garnered a lot of support from local fans. First position was scooped by local jockey Isaac Danny Simon from Charleshill with the prominent John Douglas horse while William Afrikaner from Namibia came in second with Back to Bowler and third position was scooped by Jwaneng jockey, Joe Roman with his crowd pleasing horse, Body Builder.
Last year’s race saw Namibian named You Touch My Heart winning the race while John Douglas from Charleshill came second. In this year’s race, Charleshill continued to shine as most horses got position one, two and three respectively.
This time the derby had horses from Botswana and Lesotho only with 88 horses competing in 11 races. The event featured two categories - Tswana and Thorough breeds while races ranged from 800 meters to 24 000 meters. In an interview with this publication the owner of the champion, Antarctic Call, a joyful Joseph Kananguizi applauded the derby organisers for the improvements made at this year's event adding he deserved to win because he had worked very hard for the event.
‘We prepared very well for the race with the aim of taking the Mascom derby cup from Namibia and back to Botswana where it belongs”, he said.Another participant from Charleshill who also owns the popular horse called HE or His Excellency, Willy Ping also applauded the show for transforming many horse owners’ lives. Ping joined horse racing in 2012 with a Tswana breed horse until he realised the need to race through breed horse in order to make money.Ping said organisers could do better by giving horse owners race lineup prior to the event unlike surprising them when they arrive for the race.
“The time has now come for the youth to invest on unique sports like horse racing, government should now introduce initiatives to help the youth come up with projects that will promote horse racing in Botswana,” Ping said.“To maintain and to train a horse for a race is very expensive, so the government should help the youth that are willing to invest on horse racing with funds”, he said.
Among improvements made this year, Mascom Brand and Communication Manager, Kushatha Mosojane said availing tickets throughout the country even at the annual horse race.Mosojane said they have also partnered with local station, Khuduga HD to stream the event live on the Mascom Facebook page for those who were unable to come to Maun to catch up on all the excitement.They also cleared a field next to Shashe horse race track to reduce congestion on the road to the horse track, to provide secure parking and ease traffic in and out of the farm.