White Turf | Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan for La Cavalière masquée

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

White Turf is no ordinary race meeting. Each year horses are transported through the mountains to compete on a frozen lake. Apart from the stunning scenery, spectators are in for a treat – gallops, trotting and skikjöring – and all in the same day. To complete the surreal feeling of the place, the final racing day on Sunday had Arabian horses.
The winner was a five year old gelding who only four days earlier experienced snow for the very first time.
”When you race in St. Moritz it’s not for the money. It’s a little bit like the Olympics, with a completely different atmosphere and a unique backdrop. You’re not on the ground but in 1,900 meters altitude. The audience is everything. When I’m back in Germany, racing is more elitist,” said Joakim Weismeier, who trained Fanal El Samawi, winner of the Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan Listed Cup, with his wife, while his son took it across the finishing lines.
”For the horses, it only takes one day to get used to the high altitude and the snow. On the second day we trained him on the track, and it went very well,” said Weismeier, who remains unbeaten in St. Moritz with three victories from four Arabian races.
Altogether 38,000 people attended the event which took place on the first three Sundays of February amidst a delightful mélange of champagne bars, musical performances and palm trees – much unlike the modest beginnings of the races 107 years ago, when 13 men made a bet to see who could make the quickest trip from St. Moritz to Champfèr on skis behind a riderless thoroughbred.
Just as today, the winner was crowned King of the Engadin Valley and the following year, the first race took place on the frozen lake.
Despite the risks, the honour is still a hard fought one. This year’s laureate, Adrian von Günten, succesfully defended his title on the nine year old gelding, Mombassa, which came from Peter Shiergen’s stable in Cologne – home to the 2011 Triomphe de l’Arc winner, Danedream.
In the Grand Prix BMW, Mask du Granit also defended his title when he trotted past the finishing lines for the third time, while the biggest race of the day, the Gübelin, was won by Andreas Wöhler’s six year old gelding, Russian Tango.

Written & Photos by my friend Camilla Alfthan for La Cavalière masquée / @MaskedHorse

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

www.lacavalieremasquee.com / White Turf: Racing on ice by Camilla Alfthan

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