The horse racing season in Hoppegarten is open and not even the cold rain can stop me to keep up watching this special competition. We take the S-Bahn train from the Zoo and less than one hour after, we are at the 19th century train station. As the place is well-known for the horse rearing, the station went through various transformations in order to not disturb the transportation of racing horses.
Two more batches of rain after, we are taking our place in the lodges area, trying to figure out what is going on. A big screen is transmitting news about the competition and interviews with the sponsors. The first race took place in 1868, in the presence of King Wilhelm of Prussia and his faithful Otto von Bismarck. During the GDR times, the races were famous in the entire former Eastern block, with the last GDR derby taking place in June 1990. Nowadays, it is completely private, being the only racecourse in Europe where the state does not have any involvement.
Suddenly, my journalistic focus is diverted though at the sight of beautiful hats adorning the heads of respectable horse bettors.
Going out in the yard to check the latest events, I discover a small shop selling precious hats, but I did not find anything to match my outfit, so better wait till the next horse racing.
We arrived in between races. Right now, the betting is open, the horses being introduced to the public. The trainers are walking the beautiful Arabian horses, some of them trained either in Hannover or in the Netherlands. The betting starts from 0.5 Euro and can go far beyond 500 Euro. Small kiosks in the yard are open to take the bets and not few are those who are playing their luck.
After around 40 minutes of observing the horses and hearing their qualities, we are back in the lodge, watching the race. We watch how they are approaching from the other end of the track on the screen, and see them coming closer and closer. Maximum emotion: children are screaming and adults are keeping their breath, thinking perhaps at their gain. Here is a short video I made during the race, catching the mounting emotions and the fast forward movement of the horses.
Although I didn’t bet, I feel a bit emotionally drained after the couple of minutes of the race experience, and I indulge in a cake with a coffee. For the winners and not only, a luxury champagne corner is inviting for a special treat. Otherwise, there are famous ‘wursts’, various grills and ‘bretzel’, cotton candy and, of course beer.
A new round is in the making and we are invited to see the new competitors. The last one was pretty good for some of our colleagues in the lodge whose screams of joy while hearing the final results almost push us to try our luck. Maybe a next time, when I do better my homework, getting to know the horses and their performances. With 20 racing days the year, I might have plenty of time to know more about the rules and insights of the horse racing.
As for now, when I look around at the beautiful horses elegantly walking I could hardly make a choice. All of them look noble, intelligent and very strong and well cared.
Hoppegarten has its regular fans and supporters too.
When I am walking further in the yard, I am happy to notice a special corner where the children are learning to ride ponies. For the smaller ones, there is also a big playground.
When it is time to leave, the bush trimmed in the shape of a jockey on his horse give as a wink, reminding us that whatever decision we will take about betting or not we should come back soon anyway.
We cannot leave before making a short tour of Hoppegarten, that we could not properly admire before due of the rain. Some old houses look interesting and the streets are very quiet.
On the side of the main road, signs are warning about the occurrence of meeting often horses. The nature is lovely and looking very fresh after the rain, inviting to a hike.
But most probably, what will bring me back to Hoppegarten soon are the beautiful horses, that are always teaching a lesson of loyalty and elegance. I promise that the next time will absolutely wear a hat too.
For more pictures from the horse racing in Hoppegarten, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/horse-racing-at-hoppegarten/
The next dates for the horse racing can be seen here.