In the spectacular snow-capped Upper Engadine Mountains—in the exclusive Swiss resort of St. Moritz—the rich and famous keep a mandatory appointment every February.
The lake, which is about 144 feet deep, forms a layer of ice 31 inches thick. The falling snow adds another 16 inches above the lake, which makes the ideal surface for the galloping of thoroughbreds and indeed a breathtaking scenario where spectators will fill shivers down their spine as they watch the races.
Since 1907, this traditional horse race on ice takes place on three consecutive Sundays in St Moritz—a favorite haven for international jet-setters who love both winter and equestrian sports.
About 35,000 visitors attend the splendid event. They share and enjoy the jockey’s passionate performances—riding at 40 mph— but also the live music, gourmet cuisine and magnificent shopping opportunities.
Disciplines and awards
The categories include a mix of flat race, trotting races, obstacle races and also a unique style known as Skikjoring—a trotting 9,000-foot race in which skiers are pulled by horses. You can enjoy 20 different races every 30 minutes, and the merriment goes on during the three days of the event.
The White Turf Horserace will award half a million Swiss francs (US$492.000) in prize money, the largest sum available for horse racing bets in Switzerland. The 77th Grand Prix of St. Moritz— also known as the Gubelin—is one of the most coveted with a purse of 111,111 Swiss francs (US$110.000). There will feature horses and riders from Switzerland, Germany, England and France, many of them internationally renowned personalities, as confirmed by Yanika Zehnder, in charge of communications for the White Turf.
The World Snow Hurdle Championship Final—an obstacle race with a prize of 20,000 Swiss francs (US$19.700)—will be held on Sunday, February 14. It is the highest priced horse race on snow in the world.
And perhaps a diamond to crown the day.
Both visitors and experts are concerned and enthralled by the excellent physical shape and preparation of riders, jockeys, skiers, and horses given the extreme weather conditions under which the event takes place. The conditions of the field also contribute to the excitement and surely can make things even more interesting in the tight curves of the track.
This year there is a high expectation in St. Moritz for the reopening of the legendary Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. The 120-year-old grand hotel knows how to anticipate its guests tastes and preferences. Valentine’s Day—which coincides with the second Sunday of White Turf—will be celebrated in style with a new cocktail: the “1.2 carats”, a libation containing a 1.2 carat Graff diamond. Certainly a lavish way to crown the evening after an exciting day on the tracks.
White Turf Horseraces take place on February 7th, 14th and 27th in St Moritz, Switzerland.
If you wish to stay at Badrutt’s, there is a package available for 120,000 Swiss francs, which includes transportation by private jet from Milan or Zurich to St. Moritz, a helicopter flight about 120 minutes long to enjoy the stunning mountain ranges; a twelve-course dinner and of course the Graff diamond cocktail.
Images courtesy of http://www.swiss-image.ch/de/, by Andy Mettler ■