Polyvalency

A symbol for polyvalency. The sporting heart of White Turf is, without doubt, the Grand Prix of St. Moritz, which, boasting CHF 111,111 in prize money, generally attracts international riders and first-class horses. Yet it would be utterly wrong to simply place the Grand Prix on a pedestal and relegate all the other competitions to the lesser ranks of the supporting programme. For the races held on the frozen St. Moritz lake live as a result of their variety, and the horse, as one of the most significant protagonists in the history of the development of mankind, is able to demonstrate its multi-sporting qualities to a greater extent here than on any other racecourse - as both a mounted galloper and a trotting draught animal.

The days when one and the same animal was successfully entered for different types of competitions are now a thing of the past. These days, a horse such as Tschaur, who in 1910 won both the skijoring and a trotting race, would be inconceivable, for specialisation has long since played just an as important a role in equestrian sport as it does for human athletes. The multitude of talents of the horses and their ability to continually adapt to human requirements continue to be as much a source of fascination as ever before. Horses cannot only trot and gallop fast, but can also jump high, piaffe, pull a cart, carry a load and cover 160 kilometres in less than ten hours. Since the beginning of the races in St. Moritz, the horse has occasionally been showcased as a trotter. At the premiere in 1907, a race over 5000 metres was held, carried out in three series, each with three horses, and without a final. The drivers were provided with “lightweight, neat little Norwegian sleds, type 0, Sörensen and Christiana”. These days, the drivers bring their own racing sulkies with them to the Engadine and replace the wheels with runners. Originally forged from wrought iron and, as with the sport of bobsleighing, subjected to a veritable science, these days they almost exclusively are made from aluminium. To prevent the horses from slipping on the snow, they are fitted with special horseshoes with spikes, the constitution and shape of which are predefined and precisely regulated.

The sport of trotting is much older than is widely believed. Archaeological finds bear witness to the fact that as far back as 1300 BC, horses in Asia Minor were harnessed or ridden, and were required to measure themselves against each other in a trotting gait. However, trotting races were unknown to the Greeks and Romans. More recent records of trotting races date back to the 13th century, to Norfolk in England. However, trotting in its modern form did not emerge until the end of the 18th century. While in Europe the development and advancement of trotting skills by means of training and breeding was limited to diagonal foot placement, in the USA the so-called “pacer” developed too, whose gait made the animal even faster. As with the gallop races, the trotting competitions at White Turf are frequently entered by international athletes. However, Swiss stables, too, continually set unforgettable accents. The presence of successful drivers and trainers from Graubünden also transform the meetings into a local identification platform.

Corinne Schlatter