A few days ago were the last of the season’s horse races on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda; these are not only an exciting international event, but a unique cultural experience.
As the ‘Sport of Kings’, horse racing has always been one of the highlights of the social scene across Europe and beyond. Combining the allure of thoroughbred horses; the determination of competitive jockeys; the refinement of fashionably dressed spectators; and of course the excitement of betting, horse racing is one of the most appealing events in the sporting calendar.
In southern Spain there is a unique series of horse races, held on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda that are an integral part of the country’s equestrian history and are of international acclaim.
The setting is stunning, on the broad golden beaches of the Andalusian fishing town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, with views out across the Atlantic Ocean. The town has a prestigious past, reflecting its historical position at the heart of Spain’s international exploration in early centuries and was the home of Royalty and aristocracy.
Yet it is the August horse race meetings that attract an international crowd of thousands wanting to share in the spectacle and excitement. The races are over distances of 1,500 and 1,800 metres and are a colourful sight, with each jockey wearing highly distinctive livery.
These beach races date back to 1845, and are the oldest flat races in Spain. It is believed they started as informal, impromptu competitions between owners of horses who used to transport the freshly caught fish from the port to nearby towns and markets.
Nowadays, the annual races are part of two meetings, each of 3 days in length – both in August. This year the meetings were on the 10th, 11th & 12th of August and then again on the 25th, 26th and 27th of August. These annual races are nationally and international recognised and are integrated into Spain’s national equestrian calendar. What is more, over the past 15 years, the horse races on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda have won a series of prestigious awards for their contribution to tourism and sport.
Below is my piece that was published in the Russian Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, TOUT.