Horse racing on snow – White Turf racing pageant, St. Moritz, Switzerland

White Turf worldwide racing pageant is the coldest horse racing pageant on earth but the Swiss have been doing each February since 1906 like clockwork. And so they solely needed to cancel it as soon as in the course of the delicate winter of 1964.

White Turf Sign

White Turf Signal

Nonetheless, I’m arriving on the second race day of the season and the earlier week’s course needed to be shortened. Apparently the unseasonally excessive temperatures had brought on water to kind on a number of locations on the monitor and there was a hazard of slipping on an icy patch.

Since then there’s been heavy snow and the ice has a thickness of over 30cm, sufficient to hold the burden of the tent metropolis that has sprung up on the frozen lake. Even higher, it’s a shiny sunny winter’s day, and I’m effectively wrapped as much as expertise the coldest horse racing on earth. My fellow racegoers are of their furs, in spite of everything that is St. Moritz, and are already knocking again the champagne and oysters.

The jockeys, house owners and trainers have come from everywhere in the world, not solely attracted by over £300,000 of prize cash, but in addition by the distinctiveness of the occasion – that is the world’s solely racecourse on snow and 300,000 spectators are anticipated to attend.

In addition to typical flat racing, there’s harness racing with the horses pulling a ski mounted buggy, and skijoring, the place riders on skis are pulled by unsaddled thoroughbreds And all this in opposition to a backdrop of the magnificent Engadine mountains.

The primary race begins at 11.30 and I’m right here early to absorb the environment. There’s dwell music on numerous phases, gourmand catering and, after all, queues for the betting workplace. Youngsters get pony rides, trainers exhibit their horses within the paddock because the crowds collect within the stands with their binoculars. I take my place with my digital camera and am excited to see the 1700m harness race. It’s like Ben Hur on ice, with the riders of their chariots misplaced in blizzards of snow kicked up by galloping hooves.

Occasions occur each half hour and subsequent up is a flat race, barely delayed as one the horses misplaced one in all its particular tailored sneakers – the perimeters are fitted with mini crampons to chunk into the snow. It’s adopted by a slower pony race, then it’s the flip of the extraordinary skikjöring. Though the flat and harness racing isn’t any extra harmful than on turf, that is way more hazardous. Because the jockeys are on skis, being pulled by the horses, falls are widespread with ensuing damaged bones.

They’re off!

White Turf – they’re off!

Quickly they’re off and. as they hurtle previous me at 50km/h, I have to say it’s arduous to not be impressed with their sheer daring. Bodily health and power, to say nothing of snowboarding expertise are essential, nevertheless it’s only a loopy means of passing your Sunday. Miraculously no person appears to get harm however the crowd goes wild as they full the two,700m course. The winner is Zambeso, pulling skier Adrian von Gunten who wins the title “King of the Engadine” for 2020 and prize cash of CHF15000 (round £12000).

In any case this pleasure the following flat races seem to be a little bit of an anti-climax however there’s nonetheless huge cash concerned. The GP LONGINES has a handbag of one other CHF15000, as does the GP Sport Thoughts and Pals, and it’s sure that huge cash is altering fingers on the bookies. I solely spend small change with them, as I haven’t studied the shape, however after all lose all of it. At the least the champagne is on ice.

Truth File

WHEN: White Turf St. Moritz takes place yearly on three Sundays in February.

FLY: SWISS affords greater than 150 weekly flights from London Metropolis, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal),Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh to Zurich, Geneva or Sion (seasonal).A method fares begin from £74 to Zurich and £83 to Geneva together with all taxes, charges and surcharges, one piece of maintain and hand baggage.

STAY: The 5* Grand Lodge des Bains Kempinski is a brief stroll from the lake and has a superb Michelin-starred restaurant.

MORE INFO:

Tourism Engadin St. Moritz has data on the area.

My Switzerland has details about the nation.

 

 


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