• Night Rider award for best performing jockey of the GTH Series created by local craftsman.
  • The KwaZulu Royals defeated the Cape Stingers by 40 points in the final showdown of the 2022 Global Team Horse Racing (GTH) Live Series.
  • The KwaZulu Royals jockey, Kabelo Matsunyane was awarded Series Night Rider and walks away with trophy and R30,000.

The best jockeys of South Africa’s thrilling new Global Team Horse Racing series (GTH) in Durban weren’t just competing for their share of the stakes. Event organisers unveiled a one-of-a-kind, hand-carved wooden trophy that was presented at the final race meeting at Hollywoodbets Greyville racecourse on September 2, 2022.

The creation is by local Durban artist, Josphat Phiri, a Woza Moya crafter whose supporters describe as an “extraordinary talent”.

The sculpture is a medium-size horse bust and decorative stand which the artist finished in a deep, warm walnut-brown stain. It weighs approximately 5kgs and is 40cm in height, but as Phiri explained the wood would dry out and become lighter over time.

Woza Moya is the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust’s economic empowerment programme and provides skills training and critical market access for local artists. Phiri grew up in rural farmlands surrounded by more donkeys than horses and cows. He recalls making clay animal sculptures as a child and drew inspiration for his GTH trophy from images he found online. Phiri works full-time as an artist and uses the money to help support his family. He also sells some of his pieces out of the local Embo Crafts Training Centre.

“I used to give Woza Moya some small angels and wood carvings to sell. Paula (Thompson) called me and said that she had an order,” Phiri said.

Phiri was trying to get a visa for a woodcarving competition in the US at the time of Thompsons’ call. However, the trip fell through when Phiri couldn’t afford the cost of the visa. He said the commission by GTH meant he could carry on working and had given him new hope. “It is amazing. It has made me keep on going and encouraged me to keep on trying.”

The trophy took around one and half months to complete. Phiri worked for about three to four hours each day on the carving made from the wood of a jacaranda tree and special woodcarving chainsaw blades were used to carve the figure.

The carving is finished with a beaded bridle headpiece and reins in vibrant African tribal patterns and colours, similar to the GTH team colours. 

Some of Phiri’s other work has travelled overseas with customers who have taken their pieces home to Australia, Canada and the US. Phiri was excited to know that his trophy for GTH would be presented in South Africa. He said: “I just want to say thank you for the support and my message to the riders is to take on the spirit of the horse, which is to just carry on. I feel happy that those who win will be keeping up the spirit of the horse.”

GTH is a new fast-paced style of thoroughbred horse racing. Three teams competed in live races at the Hollywoodbets Greyville racecourse over four weeks in August and September.

The KwaZulu Royals defeated the Cape Stingers by 40 points in the final showdown of the 2022 Global Team Horse Racing (GTH) Live Series on September 2, 2022. The KwaZulu Royals’ Kabelo Matsunyane lifted Phiri’s spectacular winner’s trophy as the Night Rider of the series and walked away with a cheque of R30,000.

Angus Campbell, GTH Marketing Director, said: “Josphat Phiri has managed to capture the spirit of both the horse and the uniqueness of our new event in his beautiful trophy. It is deeply gratifying to have members of the local community breathing life into these events.”