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horses

Neck and neck at Turffontein Racecourse

#Gauteng52, Week 24: Turffontein Race Course

Welcome to Week 24 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Turffontein Racecourse in southern Johannesburg. My home town, Baltimore, is a horse-racing town. The Preakness, one of the three jewels in the Triple Crown, happens every year at Baltimore’s Pimlico Racecourse. Somehow I never went. I attended a few steeplechase-type races in rural Virginia, but never made it to a legit city racetrack while living in America. Finally, two weeks ago, I had a real day at the races at Joburg’s Turffontein Racecourse. Welcome to Turffontein, which means “turf fountain” in Afrikaans. Turffontein is ancient by Joburg standards — founded in 1887 (just a year after the city itself) by the Johannesburg Turf Club. I definitely felt the history there and loved the way the Joburg skyline looms behind the racetrack. A view of the city behind Smart Mart (#5), who was warming up before his race. I bet on Smart Mart because I liked his name. I learned three important things at Turffontein: 1) Photographing horse-racing is hard. 2) Betting on horse-racing (and winning) is even harder. 3) Riding a […]

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Drakensberg Mountain Retreat horses

Wild Horses of the Drakensberg

A few weeks ago Ray and I spent three days at the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat, on the northern edge of the Drakensberg Mountain range near the border of the Free State and KwaZulu Natal. The lodge is frequented by a herd of wild horses. Wild horses are pretty much like domesticated horses. Except you can’t pet them or ride them and they go wherever the hell they want. There isn’t much to do in this part of the country, which was exactly what we were looking for when we booked the trip. We sat around the lodge, looked at the view, ate, hiked a little, and watched the horses. The Drakensberg Mountain Retreat offers great weekday specials. We initially booked an upstairs room but then got upgraded to this beautiful, huge downstairs room with its own enclosed patio, where I spent hours sitting with the windows open and watching the horses. There’s Ray sitting on the patio with the lodge’s trusted terrier and horse-chaser, Cato. Wild Horses in the Northern Drakensberg Theo, the lodge manager, told us the horses are descended from those who were abandoned in this area during the Anglo-Boer War more than a hundred years ago. I searched online but couldn’t find any definitive information about […]

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