ST MORITZ ‘White Turf’ HORSE RACING ON ICE – 12th, 19th, 26th February 2017
Having recently received a framed watercolour of St Moritz ‘Horse racing on ice’ as a thank you gift from one of Equus vendors I was curious to find out more about this unique equestrian sport.
St Moritz in Switzerland has long been the global favourite of the rich and famous and remains the winter destination of choice for many celebrities and royal families, including our own British monarchy. However, it’s not just the ski slopes that attract the rich and famous as in February each year a unique horse racing festival takes place ‘White Turf’ on the frozen lake of St Moritz ‘The Flattest and Highest race course in Europe’ .
The minute-by-minute landing of Lear jets at this prestigious location gives just a hint that these 'Racing on Ice' horse race meetings are no ordinary get-together. As you would expect this unique and exclusive, top-class event offers an enviable mix of exciting horse-racing, gourmet catering, lively music and inspiring art exhibitions, all taking place in winter sunshine on the frozen lake among the stunningly beautiful, snow-capped mountains of St Moritz.
This spectacular, major event is not just one with Champagne on ice for the rich and beautiful but is viewed as a major annual event by thoroughbred race horse owners, trainers and jockeys from all over the world where events include; traditionally Flat racing, trotting races with two wheeled lightweight horse-drawn sulkies and the coolest of all, and unique to St Moritz , ‘Skikjoring races’, where the jockeys are literally on skis being pulled behind the horses at speeds of around 30mph competing for the coveted ‘King of the Engadine’ trophy.
So how do the horses race in such difficult conditions? You may be surprised to learn how deep (or rather, how shallow) the ice and packed snow is, as a minimum of only about 25cm (10”) is necessary for the races to take place. Horses are of course wearing special winter plates with iron on their hooves – and again, they are racing on snow, not directly on ice, but it’s hard to forget that there is actually a lake underneath them.
For more information visit www.whiteturf.ch