The White Turf, horse racing sub-zero. Every year over three weekends in February, around 35,000 visitors flock to St Moritz, Switzerland and it’s not for the skiing but instead, the horse racing. The racing has taken place in this incredible setting for 111 years, atop of the world’s most exclusive lake.
HOW DOES IT WORK... Is the racing for Thoroughbred Horses? Yes, thoroughbreds head out to St Moritz from the UK and all over the world. The horses are normally transported around two weeks prior to the race day to help acclimatise to the cold weather. Before the horses work on the track their shoes have studs added to help them grip. What do the jockeys wear? Jockeys wear normal racing gear but instead of the regular goggles they wear ski goggles! When walking the track by foot they also wear slippers on top of their boots so to avoid their boots getting too slippy.
Do they use stalls? Yes just like a race here in the UK they come out of stalls and race rules are all the same. What distance are the races run over and on what surface? Just like racing here in the UK, races are run over different distances, from 1300 m to 2700 m. The track itself is round and is formed on top of a frozen lake compacted with snow. The day itself is like no other, filled with thrills and spills on the track and plenty of champagne, oysters and lobsters off it. This really is a VIP trip and one of the most exclusive events that horse racing fans can experience. A weekend of skiing on some of the most spectacular slopes in Europe, with some of the best après skiing, and a show like no other with the horse racing in a unique setting.
THE TRIP The adventure starts from the moment you land. Fly into Zurich and board a train which takes you from the airport and meanders through the stunning mountains to St Moritz. The journey takes approximately 3 hours but that is no bad thing as it is unlikely that anyone will get bored of the scenic views. Upon arrival, you have the afternoon at leisure, if you are a keen skier you can hit the slopes, if relaxing is more your thing you can find a nice spot for lunch, there are so many amazing restaurants with stunning views, you will be spoilt for choice. A recommendation of ours would be Chesa Vigila which has the classic chalet style with amazing swiss food, so you can really indulge in the culture.
Saturday is a day at your leisure, hit the slopes for a days skiing, stroll along the high street for a bit of retail therapy; with some of the top brands from across the globe, go for a walk and build up an appetite for lunch, or simply take some time for a little TLC and enjoy a day at an amazing Spa.
Then comes Sunday, race day. Racing begins at 11.30am and the last race is at 3.00pm, due to daylight hours the raceday is much shorter than you may be used to! Don’t fear though as the day itself is action packed with everything from your standard racing to trotting and skijoring. Never heard of skijoring? This is when the jockeys are strapped to the horse by a rope and then follow behind on a pair of skis! The day has a fantastic program on offer for all of the family. During and in between races you can also enjoy live music on various different stages, delicious food to satisfy any taste, art exhibits and a children's play area.
As well as the horses racing on the lake, you can enjoy a trip up into the mountains to the famous Crests Run. This is a natural ice skeleton racing toboggan track used for different types of toboggan races. The rider goes down on a toboggan in a lying position head-first, using rakes on the end of special boots with brake and steer. Riders can also go down in pairs or teams in metal capsules on runners. An exhilarating sport consisting of speed and nail biting sharp corners. A true test of skill and judgement as riders negotiate the corners successfully with the minimum loss of speed and time. A great spectator sport and one that will remain a spectator sport...unless you are a real adrenaline seeking daredevil...be our guest.