Horse Racing in Cyprus
Nicosia Race Club
By Ralph Kratzer
First, because I do not bet. I’ve never been in a casino, did not enter a betting office, have not even sat at a slot machine in a pub. Why? Because I am simply not the type for gambling…
Secondly, because I, as an absolute animal lover, always thought of horse racing in connection with cruelty to animals.
But when my girlfriend invited me to a horse race in Nicosia, I agreed spontaneously, just to make a new experience.
Brits love horse racing, even more betting, and the whole experience as a welcome change of everyday life. Deborah Maxwell, a good friend of my girlfriend, organized an afternoon and evening at the Nicosia Race Club, a racecourse in the southern part of our divided capital of Nicosia, directly behind the Metehan border crossing.
What first surprised me, admission was free!
Secondly – although the whole complex has meanwhile got on in years – how well maintained and manicured the course was.
We were directed to the “Marquee”, a VIP-tent near the grandstand. There was a private bar, a private betting office, and a rich delicious buffet exclusively for us. This was already a good start!
Of course I was curious about the whole trappings. The first way led me to the parade ring. There the horses and the jockeys are presented to the audience before the race. What surprised me here was that all the race horses made a very proper and well looked after impression to me. None of the animals looked stressed or unhappy. On the contrary, I had the feeling that some of them could not wait for the start of the race !
After the presentation, horses and riders then go to the starting gates. Last Sunday 10 races were held. The horses were divided into age groups for this purpose. Mostly three year olds were at the start and they all made the impression that they loved running. And in fact, the jockeys used their little whips extremely cautiously, only to spur the animals. I was again surprised!
Whenever I returned to the Marquee during my excursions, the mood of the guests had become better and better, because some of them actually won handsome amounts on their bets!
Between the races Deborah entertained the guests with things like a cryptic table quiz or the election of the best-dressed gentlemen and lady.
In the last race of the day – now it was already getting dark – I threw caution to the wind and bet on horse number 9, only because I liked the name, “Portakal Fiesta”, Orange Feast.
Already in the parade ring I thought: wrong choice! While the other horses waited nervously for the start, the number 9, a mare, crept rather listlessly alongside her groom. Typical woman, I muttered to myself! But minutes later she was so excited that she was hardly to be manouvered into her start box! When the starting gates opened, who did not come out? The number 9! So, Portakal Fiesta was at once behind the field. But I was really surprised by how this horse turned up again down the stretch!
Unfortunately, the final score at the finishing post was only 3rd for her, but I was thrilled!
So, all in all a great day, even if I din´t win my bet! I think I´ll go back to another horse race one day…