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Bray and the Bray Horse Race – The ‘Bray July’

Bray, North-West Province, South-Africa

Bray is a tiny ‘frontier post’ town in the North West Province, in a blisteringly hot (and ice cold at night) acacia tree dotted savannah/semi-desert of the Eastern Kalahari, with only two dusty streets, a store, a pretty white-washed church (always a pretty church in South Africa), a fuel station, some RDP houses, a camping lodge and a couple of guest houses.

It is basically a supply stop for people heading into Botswana from the North West, but Bray hosts one annual event that makes it a tourist attraction in itself – if only once a year, in July: The Bray Horse Race.

‘The Bray July’ as it is dubbed (are you familiar with South Africa’s biggest horse race and one of the SA’s biggest annual society events, the Durban July? If so, you get will get the humour in this name…), attracts hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators each year, filling up game farm, country lodge and camping accommodation in the surrounding North West and generating spot prosperity for the local store and a couple of other pop-up businesses.

The Bray Horse Race is ‘Bush Race’ through the dusty streets. There’s no track, and no professional jockeys, but the horses are thoroughbreds, they are fast, furious and spirited and the ‘amateur jockeys’, garbed in full racing gear, are often racing stable hands and grooms who are very experienced riders.

There are 10 races in all, and it is all very serious business from the yelling and emotions and the horses to the betting.

The race attracts entrants from all over the country and beyond, and generates hundreds of thousands of Rands in income.

Rather delightfully, the Bray Horse Race was reportedly started in the late 90’s as a bit of fun by the local Recreational Club because there was nothing to do in Bray.

For info on The Bray July and dates for the races contact: +27 18-397-1500

Getting there: Take the R337 north from Vryburg, turning off left on to the R375, then right (still on the R377) for Bray. Continue on the R375 for a further 70km into Bray. Total travelling time is around 3 and a half hours from Vryburg. Note that there are no towns on this route, and it is ‘hot as hell’ so make sure your fuel tank is full, your tyres and everything else checked, and that you have plenty of water and food.

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