White Turf, 2017

15 Feb

On the weekend I headed to St Moritz for the first race day of White Turf. White Turf is an international annual horse race that takes place over three weekends in February. The event has been taking place since 1907.

This is no normal horse race like the Grand National and Ascot. The race takes place on the frozen St Moritz Lake. The horses are actually racing on snow and ice. In some of the races the jockeys are actually pulled along behind the horse on skis. It is one of those things that you need to see before you believe it. I have no idea who came up with this as an idea for these races but somehow it works.

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It really is mind-blowing that the races are being run on a lake. I have never been to St Moritz in the summer so I can’t imagine how it will look like in the summer. It is hard to visualise the whole area green rather than white – I have made a promise to myself that I will re-visit in the summer to compare the two seasons in the same place. Of course, there have been occasions when the races have been cancelled because the weather has been too warm and the snow and ice has begun to melt.

The races are always a spectacle, as are the spectators. For as far as the eye can see: botox, moon boots and fur. There are the occasional dogs in handbags as well if you look hard enough. So even between the races, there is entertainment on hand. You just have to look around.

This year in St Moritz the World Ski Championships are also taking place and in the stand behind us was some of the US Ski team who weren’t competing on that day. I can’t say that I recognised any of them. But it was possible to see the piste where the races took place from where we were in the valley.

This year I even had a flutter. I img_4702don’t understand the betting odds and I am pretty sure that they don’t work the same way as they do in the UK. Someone once told me that you should never bet more than you can afford to lose. I bet 5 CHF, the cost of a coffee. The race is infinitely more exciting when you have something at stake, even if the amount you stand to win is not all that high. I didn’t win though.

In April, I will be going to the Grand National in Liverpool. Although there is a chance that this race will also take place on ice and snow (you never know with the British weather), I will definitely be swotting up on my racing odds. Whether studying the racing form is better than just choosing a horse with a good sounding name remains to be seen….

 

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