The birth of the MTC Horse Derby
Horseracing enthusiasts are expected to flock to the Okahandja race course next month for what is dubbed the biggest equestrian event in Namibian history.
16 November 2020 | Sports
The first MTC Horse Derby will take place at Okahandja on 28 November.
Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) has granted the Namibia Horseracing Association a sponsorship of N$1.5 million which will run for a period of three years.
The prize money is N$250 000, while the race includes the Nambred and thoroughbred categories.
Two of Namibia's top horses, Starlile and Visigoth, are expected to come face to face at the derby in the thoroughbred division.
Visigoth is the current champion of that division after his triumph at Tsaka last month, while Starlile, which came second at Tsaka, will be looking to redeem himself with a victory on its home ground.
The Nambred A-Division is also expected to produce fireworks with Okahandja Racing Club's Leeuloop still in form following its victory in Tsaka last month.
The president of the NHRA, Marthinus de Waal, thanked MTC for coming on board and making the event possible.
“We would like to thank MTC Namibia for making this event possible through their sponsorship.
“This is going to be the best derby ever because we have top horses that will compete at the event.
“I would also like to thank all our stakeholders for supporting horseracing over a number of years,” De Waal said.
Health protocols in place
The NHRA president added that he expects a large number of people to attend.
De Waal promised that all health protocols to combat the coronavirus pandemic will be in place.
“We will make sure that the safety of all people attending the event will be our priority.
“No one will be allowed to enter this event without a mask and they will also be sanitised,” De Waal said.
The NHRA was formed in 1999 with only six racing clubs and a few individuals with horses.
For many years horseracing was struggling to keep up with other sport codes as far as attracting fans and sponsors was concerned.
But the sport has grown from strength to strength and it is becoming one of the most popular spectator sports in the country, having 18 clubs affiliated to the NHRA now.
Look after jockeys
MTC's John Ekongo said the company was proud to have been part of the horseracing association since 2017.
It was only this year that the company decided to inject more money into the sport in order to support its growth.
Ekongo advised horse owners and the NRHA to make sure that the jockeys are treated well.
“As MTC, we are proud to be part of this historic event and we will continue making sure that all people are treated well.
“I urge racehorse owners to take good care of the jockeys by ensuring that that they are remunerated well.
“I remember back in the years, there were horses like Ali that we always used to hear about.
“It has been impressive to see the number of people that are actually into horseracing,” Ekongo said.
Timo Mujeu, the CEO of the Professor Supporters Club, said he was excited about the event.
Mujeu expressed his gratitude towards horse owners and all stakeholders involved in the industry.