In November 2017 a group of stakeholders from Fairview Racecourse in Port Elizabeth engaged the Nelson Mandela University School of Language, Media and Communication to discuss a collaborative project that would be undertaken in 2018 with the students of the media department.
Dr Subeshini Moodley, acting head of the department of media and communications, senior lecturer in video production and film studies together with Mr Luciano Passerini (Phumelela Regional Manager) and Karin le Roux (Fairview Racecourse Promotions Manager) formalised a strategy to create a docu-narrative set at Fairview Racecourse with special emphasis on what happens behind the scenes in the run up to racing.
The idea was to engage students in our community and effectively view the racecourse through the eyes of a younger generation whilst opening opportunities for their work experience to be showcased locally and alongside the international television broadcasting of horseracing on the DSTV Tellytrack channel.
The brief given to the students was to focus on “a day in the life of a thoroughbred race horse” which could be interpreted as they experienced the interaction on course. The idea was to give the viewer insight into the work and effort that goes into caring and training these magnificent animals.
This involved getting up really early, catching the sunrise and following horses around until they had captured the perfect shot. The process was supervised by a National Horseracing Authority representative, Ms Julia Keevy, a Stipendiary Steward for the Eastern Cape, who introduced the students to the horses and ensured that they could move around safely and that people on course could get to know the crews involved with the project.
Trainers and grooms on course were especially co-operative and allowed the students a sneak peek into the daily routines of their yards and the way in which they interact with their horses, which very few people are privileged to witness as the centre is a secure area ensuring the safety of all horses and people on course.
The filming started in April 2018 after the group of students had visited Fairview Racecourse in Greenbushes on a race day earlier in the year. As most had never been to a horse racing event it was particularly exciting witnessing a field of thoroughbreds charging down the turf track for the first time.
The outcome of the project culminated in the films being shown at the Racing Association Awards evening on the 1 September 2018 at Fairview Racecourse. The video productions submitted from the students all round were top class and the panel were most impressed by the quality produced by 3rd year and honours students of the Nelson Mandela University.
Sugarbird Productions, consisting of students Melandri Koekamoer, Maryka Momberg, Vuyolwethu Mpongwana, Similile Qinel and Brendan Smit, were awarded first prize for a work that featured the gracious grey horse Stormy Eclipse, winner of the listed Memorial Mile race and trained by Tara Laing.
Prizes were contributed by Racing.It’s A Rush, Fairview Racecourse, The Racing Association and the National Horseracing Authority. An internship at Tellytrack was awarded to the top two students of the department, Maryka Momberg and Ziyanda Bam, who will spend a week at the Johannesburg studios in Rivonia experiencing the production and co-ordination of live broadcasting and televised feeds of horseracing. – Racing. It’s A Rush