The Vaal Racecourse, renowned for its friendly, country atmosphere is situated in the heart of the Vaal Triangle only minutes away from Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging, and not too far from Johannesburg.
It offers an oval turf track of about 3,000m in circumference, which includes a 1,600m straight course connected by very sharp bends. This racetrack has the longest circumference, run-in and straight in SA, which puts both the jockey and the horse to the test. This is a righthanded course, meaning that it runs clockwise, i.e. the rails will be on the jockey’s righthand side.
Generally, outside draws hold an advantage for the horse and jockey on the straight course, especially when the going is soft. ‘Going’ describes the state of the surface that the race is taking place on.
Despite the length of the run-in, horses racing in front almost always do well at the Vaal.
Races that are longer than 1200m start in the middle of the bend, and the ones longer than 1400m start right at the entrance of the bend.
Starting stalls for races over 1400m are positioned at an angle, to compensate for wide draws. As a result, those drawn on the very inside could be cut off unless they jump out of the starting box very quickly. The sand track, which was inaugurated in August 2001, appears to put a premium on stamina, although making up ground from behind seems more difficult than how it is on grass. It is still too early to determine whether the track is biased towards the inside or outside, and whether there is an advantage to the draw.
The course plays host to the Grade 2 Heritage Cup (1,450m) and Grade 3 August Stakes (1,200m) each year and is known for its friendly atmosphere and slightly more countrified surroundings than the neighbouring courses. This course represents a good starting point for those new to the sport.
The original licence for the Vaal Racecourse was taken out in 1944, but proceedings were stopped due to objections related to inadequate controls from the Jockey Club of South Africa. In February 1946, however, the racecourse was successfully registered, and the Vaal Racing Club was formed shortly thereafter.
It is also used as a conference and events venue, with six venues offering seating for between 50 and 360 guests.
Address: Ascot Road, Viljoensdrif, 9580 Box 100 Bedworth Park 1940
Tel. (016) 457-1124 Fax. (016) 457-1113