- Moscow Hippodrome is a fine example of Stalinist architecture and a 20th-century architectural landmark.
- On Saturdays and Sundays, spectators can enjoy horse and trotting races; betting facilities are open and lots are drawn.
- The annual President’s Cup Horse Race (in June) features Russian troika races and performances by Cossacks and the Cavalry Battalion.
- Unique Russian troika races take place in wintertime.
- History lovers are offered guided tours on the history of the hippodrome, the renowned Orlov trotters, horse breeds and horse training.
- All information on the Hippodrome is available in Russian only.
The Central Moscow HippodromeRussian: Moskovskiy ippodrom or Московский ипподром is the oldest and one of the largest in Russia. The hippodrome is located on the Third Ring RoadRussian: Tretye Transportnoye koltso or Третье Транспортное кольцо, in the city centre. Horse races take place here every Saturday and Sunday from May to September, and trotting races take place all year round; there are betting facilities available on site. Guided tours are available, and you can learn a great deal about the past and present of the Moscow Hippodrome, horse breeds, the development of the well-known Orlov Trottera horse breed with a hereditary fast trot, noted for its outstanding speed and stamina and the trials of racehorses. The hippodrome building is a 20th-century architectural landmark and a fine example of Stalinist architecturearchitecture of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, between 1933 and 1955. The stalls are covered and the seating capacity is 3,500.
The Central Moscow Hippodrome regularly hosts prize draws and competitions for riding and race horses which bring together the finest Russian and international jockeys. Rain or shine, racehorses are taken to the track every Sunday at 1 pm, and from May to September spectators can enjoy the trials of thoroughbred riding and Arabian horses.
The President’s Cup Horse Race has been held on the Moscow Hippodrome every June since 2012. This event also features performances by Cossacksa group of predominantly East Slavic-speaking people who became known as members of democratic, self-governing, semi-military communities and the Presidential Cavalry Escort BattalionRussian: Prezidentskiy polk or Президентский полк, Russian troikathe traditional Russian carriage drawn by a team of three horses races, as well as Cossack trick riding shows.
In wintertime, the hippodrome hosts unique horse races on the snow – the Russian Troika ChampionshipRussian: Chempionat Rossii russkikh troyek or Чемпионат России русских троек. It requires special skills to drive a Russian troika, which was designed to cover long distances – a team of three horses is the perfect combination of speed, power and endurance. The troika can reach a speed of up to 60 kilometers per hour.
The Moscow Hippodrome was opened in 1834 and the first race was held that year. Back then, it consisted of a small building and wooden pavilions for the public. A beautiful new building with vast halls, buffets and stone stalls opened in 1899. Members of the Russian imperial family used to come and enjoy horse races here, and Emperor Nicholas IIthe last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1894 until his forced abdication in 1917 even had a personal study at the hippodrome. Surviving furniture from this study is on display at the hippodrome’s museumRussian: Muzey ippodroma or Музей ипподрома.
The first building burned almost to the ground in 1949. Only some of its facilities remained intact, including the hall that now houses the hippodrome’s museum. Today, visitors and tourists see a more recent Stalinist building designed by I. Zholtovsky in 1955. According to some researchers, this project is a combination of two major Moscow landmarks, the Kremlin and the Bolshoi TheatreRussian: Bolshoy teatr or Большой театр. On the left side of the hippodrome is a three-tiered tower that is somewhat reminiscent of the Kremlin tower. It is topped with a belvedere in the shape of a horse head inspired by that of Ashonok, a handsome stallion and winner of many races. The right side of the hippodrome features a mighty eight-columned porch crowned with a bronze quadriga, reminiscent of the one on the Bolshoi Theatre. This group sculpture has remained from the hippodrome’s first building (19th c.)
Interestingly, this is not the only sculpture that remains from the old hippodrome. Two high pedestals supporting young horse tamers stand at the very start of the Racing AlleyRussian: Begovaya alleya or Беговая аллея, 300 meters from the hippodrome. These are the exact replicas of the sculpture decorating the Anichkov BridgeRussian: Anichkov most or Аничков мост in St. Petersburg (designed by P. Klodt). Their Moscow counterparts were designed by the sculptor’s grandson K. Klodt in 1899 and, at the time, were part of the main entrance to the hippodrome.
Unlike traditional European hippodromes, the Russian hippodrome is multi-functional, i.e. it has racing tracks for trials of both riding and racehorses. Recognizing the racing ring is easy: it is the hippodrome’s 1,800-meter-long outer ring shaped like a sand track. Both race and riding horses are trained on the hippodrome. Visitors are unlikely to see the riding horses; traditionally, these are taken to the ring at 5 am and the training session is over by 8 am. This tradition dates back to first horse races in England, a time when owners would hide their horses from prying eyes and have them trained at dawn.
The hippodrome is more than just stalls and racing tracks. Hippodrome trials have been the main way of selecting breeders and, consequently, for improving horse breeds throughout the history of riding and racehorse breeding in Russia.© 2016-2022 moscovery.com