White Turf: Horses, snow and oysters
Text: Nane Steinhoff | Photo © Swiss-Image.Ch, Andy Mettler
The Swiss White Turf event, which has been held annually since 1907 in the beautiful St. Moritz, is a unique and exclusive horse-racing event with gourmet catering, betting opportunities, attractive entertainment with lively music and various inspiring art exhibitions – and all of that overlooking the breathtaking mountain panorama. This year, the 81st LONGINES Grand Prix of St. Moritz will celebrate 113 international horse races on the snow in St. Moritz.
Imagine marvelling at athletic horses racing over snow-covered tracks on the frozen Lake St. Moritz, while indulging in a glass of fine Champagne and gazing at the surrounding mountain panorama. Pretty fantastic scenario, right? Well, this is the reality at the upcoming White Turf event of 2020.
Tradition and innovation
After last year’s great anniversary that celebrated eight spectacular decades of the Flat Racing competition LONGINES Grand Prix of St. Moritz, this year’s event also promises a top-class and very strong starting grid: 24 horses – among them, the winners of the last three races – have already been registered for Switzerland’s most enumerated race. With a total prize money of around 400,000 Swiss francs, this year’s White Turf will be held on 2, 9 and 16 February. Over 35,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to come to the event on the frozen Lake St. Moritz, which will be organised by St. Moritz’s Rennverein and sponsored by Credit Suisse AG, BMW AG and LONGINES, amongst others.
Tradition and innovation have become the trademarks of this international horse race for over a century. As a sporting event of the special kind and a social highlight, the White Turf is one of the top Swiss events annually. This year, a total of 20 flat-, trotting- and skijoring races will be held on the three racing Sundays. The races will start from 11.30am on each day and will alternate every 30 minutes. A special focus is put on quality and safety, which will be guaranteed by innovative technical measures, such as georadar systems and infrared thermal imaging cameras.
International starting field
The high number of nominations – 24 horses are almost double as many nominations than in the previous year – reflects the continued appeal of the White Turf event. “We are really happy that we are able to receive such many registrations,” says Annina Widmer, head of the racing activities. She continues: “Besides racing stables from France and Germany, Switzerland provides exactly one third of the GP candidates.”
Something particularly special is this year’s high volume of English participation. “With eight nominations from England, 2020 will see more English racing stables than we have done in a long time. This is no small feat when you consider the efforts needed to safely transport racehorses from England up to 1,800 deeply snow-covered metres above sea level.” Thomas C. Walther, president of the management board of the St. Moritz Racing Association, is also happy about the strong starting field, but also knows: “It’s primarily due to Annina Widmer that we have almost twice as many nominations in 2020, compared to 2019. She nurtures the contacts on the scene, establishes new contacts and knows the needs of the active members like no other.”
A new public favourite
Lake St. Moritz not only offers a spectacular stage for the professionals, but also for promising aspiring young jockeys: after the first pony race in the history of White Turf was very well received last year by participants, as well as viewers, 2020 will also see a 800-metre-long pony gallop race on the first and second racing Sunday, that is part of the official Swiss Pony Cup.
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