In the beginning, at the end of the 19th century, the area was used by the Black Hussar Regiment for hunting runs. Later, in the interwar period, when Sopot was a part of the Free City of Danzig, it was a horse racing track known all over Europe. The only one which gave views of the sea. After the war, the State Dressage School was set up there.
Nowadays, the Sopot Hippodrome is a comprehensive equestrian centre, which holds summer horse races and numerous sporting events all year round. Here, Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, took part in the European Combined Driving Championships, and Bruce Springsteen’s daughter participated in a CSIO competition.
The flag is up. In an atmosphere of a summer picnic, you can see ladies in beautiful hats and feel huge excitement all over the place when horses are coming to the finish line, running straight for victory. A lot of people come here to take part in exciting sporting events and races, which are still a huge attraction at the Hippodrome. The races are traditionally held in July, and participants include horses from studs in Warsaw and Wrocław. Apart from flat racing, harness racing has also become a popular form of entertainment over the years.
But the Hippodrome is much more than gambling. Boasting more than 100 years of tradition, a remarkable green area, and historical buildings, it is nowadays a venue of top sporting events. The most popular disciplines practised in Sopot include show jumping, dressage, and the Eventing (horse trials).
The Hippodrome is teeming with life all year round, and thanks to its revitalisation, which covered two stud complexes and the riding arena, its infrastructure allows over thirty equestrian events to be held a year. The major one and the pride and joy of the Hippodrome is the International Show Jumping Competition CSIO5*.
It’s a highly prestigious and important event, which also includes the Nations Cup competition. The highest possible rank 5* of the competition attracts the best equestrians from all over the world.
Apart from spectacular and elegant jumping competitions, the Hippodrome holds the Eventing International Competition twice a year, in spring and autumn. It’s an equestrian triathlon comprising three disciplines: dressage, show jumping, and cross-country. The Eventing is particularly popular in Great Britain in France, but it’s also gaining popularity among Polish equestrian fans, who appreciate the universal and outdoor character of the event.
In winter, the largest in Poland indoor riding arena is a venue of multiple indoor competitions. Two or three times a month, it houses show jumping and dressage events.
Moreover, the centre plays a major role in training young equestrians – it houses ten equestrian schools and a hippotherapy centre. Over a thousand people, mostly young adults and children, come to the Hippodrome to learn horse riding.
The history of this place, memories of Prince Philip, who won everybody’s hearts with his personal charm, naturalness and fair play attitude, memories of generations of equestrians, who took their first steps in the sport here and learned from the best – this spirit can be felt all over the place. Visit the Hippodrome to watch popular equestrian events or simply come here for a walk as the venue is open to the general public. Let yourself be bitten by the equestrian bug and start your riding lessons today.
text: Alicja Kocik