White Turf Racing
(Photo : Swiss Image/Foto Homberger)
Whilst things are “hotting up” in the desert in anticipation of the running of the world’s richest horse race in Dubai, we thought we would share an experience of the other extreme. In a land famous for its skiing, Toblerone chocolate, cheese, breathtaking Alpine vistas, timepieces and the auspicious gatherings at Davos, an amazing racing spectacle takes place annually in ski utopia Arosa and glitzy St Moritz. Although the Swiss have been attached to horses since Roman times, horse racing is relatively new and popular, with annual betting topping over 100 million Swiss Francs.
The annual White Turf Racing event attracts competitors from 8 different countries, where horses are fitted with special shoes, and race on a frozen lake. No mean feat: the ice is between 40 and 80 cm thick, and needs to withstand 20 000 tonnes - 10 000 people, 75 tents, 1000 cars, chandeliers and crates of champagne, of course! Another popular event is skikjoering – courageous young men and women don skis and are drawn behind horses, at cheek-wobbling speeds.
Definitely a case of “frozen, and slurred”!