The Central Moscow Hippodrome (Russian: Московский ипподром) is the oldest and one of the largest in Russia. The hippodrome is located on the Third Ring Road, 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 is a betting terminal too. History lovers are offered guided tours, where they will learn a great deal about the past and present of the Moscow Hippodrome, horse breeds, the development of the well-known Orlov Trotter and the trials of racehorses. The hippodrome building is a 20th-century architectural landmark and a fine sample of Stalinist architecture. The stalls are covered and have seating capacity for 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 Cossacks and the Presidential Cavalry Escort Battalion, Russian troika races, as well as Cossack trick riding shows.
In wintertime, the hippodrome hosts unique horse races on snow, the Russian Troika Championship. It requires special skills to drive Russian troikaы. The troika was created to cover long distances, and the team of three horses is a perfect combination of speed, power and endurance. The troika can reach a speed of 60 kilometers per hour.
The Moscow Hippodrome was opened in 1834, when the first horse race was run here. Back then, it consisted of a small building and wooden pavilions for the public. A beautiful new building with vast halls, buffets and pompous stone stalls was open to visitors in 1899. Members of the Russian imperial family used to come and enjoy horse races here, and Emperor Nicholas II even had a personal study at the hippodrome. Surviving furniture from this study is on display at the hippodrome’s museum.
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 admire 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 Theatre. On the left side of the hippodrome is a three-tiered tower that has something in common with the Kremlin Tower, indeed. It is topped with a belvedere in the shape of a horse head inspired by that of Ashonok, a handsome stallion and race winner. 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 has remained from the old hippodrome. Two high pedestals supporting young horse tamers stand at the very start of the Racing Alley, 300 meters from the hippodrome. These are the exact replicas of the sculpture decorating the Anichkov Bridge in St. Petersburg (designed by P. Klodt). Their Moscow counterparts were designed by the sculptor’s grandson K. Klodt in 1899 and, at that time, were part of the main entrance to the hippodrome.
Unlike traditional European hippodromes, the Russian hippodrome is a combined one, 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 latter ones: by tradition, riding horses are taken to the ring at 5 am and the training session ends at 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 not just stalls and racing tracks. Hippodrome trials have been the main way for selecting breeders and, consequently, for improving horse breeds throughout the history of riding and racehorse breeding in Russia.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com