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

White Turf worldwide racing competition is the coldest horse racing competition on earth but the Swiss have been doing each February since 1906 like clockwork. They usually solely needed to cancel it as soon as in the course of the gentle 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 induced 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 brilliant sunny winter’s day, and I’m properly wrapped as much as expertise the coldest horse racing on earth. My fellow racegoers are of their furs, in any case that is St. Moritz, and are already knocking again the champagne and oysters.

The jockeys, homeowners and trainers have come from all around the world, not solely attracted by over £300,000 of prize cash, but in addition by the individuality 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 towards a backdrop of the magnificent Engadine mountains.

The primary race begins at 11.30 and I’m right here early to take in the environment. There’s stay music on varied levels, connoisseur 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 digicam 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 every of its particular tailored footwear – the sides are fitted with mini crampons to chew 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 much more hazardous. For the reason that 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 onerous 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 approach of passing your Sunday. Miraculously no one appears to get damage 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 look like a little bit of an anti-climax however there’s nonetheless large cash concerned. The GP LONGINES has a handbag of one other CHF15000, as does the GP Sport Thoughts and Associates, and it’s sure that large cash is altering palms on the bookies. I solely spend small change with them, as I haven’t studied the shape, however after all lose all of it. No less than the champagne is on ice.

Reality File

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

FLY: SWISS provides greater than 150 weekly flights from London Metropolis, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal),Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh to Zurich, Geneva or Sion (seasonal).A technique 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 wonderful Michelin-starred restaurant.


Tourism Engadin St. Moritz has data on the area.

My Switzerland has details about the nation.



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