On three consecutive Sundays in February, over 35,000 spectators will flock to the frozen expanse of Lake St. Moritz to witness something quite unique – a 112-year-old horseracing event on ice known as White Turf. In this magnificent alpine setting, visitors and locals alike enjoy a mix of flat races, trotting races and skijoring, where men on skis are pulled along a 2,700-metre track by thoroughbreds at speeds of up to 50 km/h. This is not a sport for the faint-hearted.
With prize money totalling approximately half a million Swiss francs, it is no surprise to see racehorse trainers, owners and jockeys attracted to this prestigious event from all around the world. Races are run over different distances, from 1,300 metres to 2,700 metres, with the first race scheduled for 11.30am and the last at 15.00pm.
The circular track is formed of compacted snow on top of the frozen lake and horses have studs fitted to their shoes to help them grip. The thoroughbreds normally head out to St. Moritz around two weeks before the race day to help them acclimatise to the cold weather, and jockeys wear balaclavas under their helmets and ski goggles to help protect their faces from the kickback of snow and ice.
One of a kind
Attracting sponsors including Credit Suisse, BMW, and Longines, there is no event quite like it anywhere in the world. Visitors can enjoy a flutter and cheer on their favourite horse from the sidelines while also being entertained by the many thrills and spills along the way.
Aside from the horse racing, White Turf is very much a social event. Visitors can enjoy gourmet catering, champagne on ice, live music, art exhibitions and designer shopping.
Whilst the event is accessible for families, more demanding guests can enjoy 5-star hotel-like service in the VIP tent. Leo Trippi, a mountain holiday specialist, has put together a special VIP experience. This includes access to an exclusive VIP lounge and terrace beside the racetrack, providing guests with the opportunity to get up close to the horses as they thunder past. Guests will also be treated to a gastronomic dining experience with exquisite starters, main courses, desserts and wine. The highlight though is an exclusive backstage pass giving guests the opportunity to be hosted by a well-known trainer, get the inside track on the runners and riders and to meet several of the famous competing jockeys.
This really is not only a VIP trip, but one of the most exclusive events that horseracing fans can experience. White Turf takes place on the 3, 10 and 17 February 2019.