by Scott Buchan, Mashonaland Turf Club Vice Chairman
It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to Borrowdale Park for the acceptances of the 33rd running of the OK Grand Challenge. I take this opportunity on behalf of the Mashonaland Turf Club to once again welcome the Chief Financial Officer of OK, Mr Phil Mushosho, all the directors of ManCom, and the OK group that are with us, the marketing team headed by Marketing Director Juliet Ziswa, and of course the CEO, Mr Max Karombo.
Thank you to Betina Gurajena of the Mashonaland Turf Club, who has worked tirelessly and heads up our OK Grand Challenge racing team, the racing centre, the stewards, all our trainers and staff who are with us today, and of course, thank you to the media houses and advertising companies who play their own special role in formatting and rolling out the OKGC this year.
Over the years, the OK Grand Challenge has not only become a much-loved and permanent fixture of the Zimbabwe racing calendar, but it has also become a permanent fixture of our national sporting and fashion calendar. It is now undeniably a major race within our international racing fraternity.
This international focus not only presents Borrowdale Park as a world-class racing centre, but it also adds to the attractiveness of Harare as an international destination. This also gives fantastic exposure to the OK group as a leading international brand and company. This will be the second time in which the OK Grand Challenge has been run with the virtual and online offering and there has been a large and encouraging uptake from all of you that allows both a VIP, fashion and marketing experience from the comfort of your own home. From Mushandike to Mushumbi Pools, both you and I will be enjoying the races, the fashion, the shopping, the excitement and the opportunity to win. We have for the first time ever a four-host broadcasting audience this year. It will be carried by our nation’s flagship ZBC TV, DSTV (Zimbabwe and South Africa), our recently envisaged Gold Circle Television.
The partnership that has developed over the years between the horse racing and OK has transcended to more than just a horse race. It is more of a national sporting event that OK has invested heavily in. This year is the largest yet with USD70,000 in the main race and USD90, 000 into races held on the day in a foot pal pot.
On behalf of Mashonaland Turf Club, I would like to personally thank the OK Zimbabwe group for your continued investment into our sport. This day will bring so much to so many. From our trainers, our owners, our grooms, who will win this race and have a lifetime of memories that will be etched within them forever. I also thank the OK group for allowing these memories, and this opportunity to win, to all those throughout our nation. This will not only save to encourage our youth but it will give inspiration to each and everyone of them. It will improve and it will provide even the smallest of platforms to allow them to develop into our future leaders and hopefully future businessmen.
To OK CEO, Max Karombo, your continued support is invaluable and I thank you. I also have some rather good news for you today. In light of OK Zimbabwe’s continued commitment as well as the decades old partnership with Mashonaland Turf Club, I’m pleased to announce today that the OK Grand Challenge, within the rules of the APC and Southern African horse racing, has been officially elevated to a Grade 1 listed event.
Well done, you deserve it!