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Sanlucar Horse Races: Yet Again A Star Event Of The Cadiz Summer

This Year Marks the 166th Anniversary of This Social, Sports and Tourist
Event to Be Held From 10-12 and 25-27 August

One of the highlights of the year in Sanlúcar de Barrameda is its famous horse races. This a tourist, sports and social event attracts thousands of visitors to the city each August to watch the evening horse racing along the beach against the backdrop of the Doñana. The Sanlúcar de Barrameda horse races will be held on the 10-12 and 25-27 August this year. The races have been declared to be of international tourist interest. Whether watching from the enclosures or the beach – where entrance is free , going to these races are a real highlight of the Cadiz summer.

Twenty-three races for thoroughbred horses will be held at this unique Andalusian racetrack: the damp sand at low tide between the Bajo de Guía and the Piletas beaches. And the dates of the races, which change from year to year, and the start time depend on the tide times. The spectacle usually begins at around half past six in the afternoon and ends at around half past nine in the evening. Over 30,000 people flock here to enjoy the sunset, with thoroughbreds galloping along the shore against the backdrop of the Doñana National Park.

The budget for this year’s races is 600,000 euros, 170,000 of which are earmarked as prize money. The races are also a magnificent opportunity to enjoy the local cuisine, with its signature dish of Sanlúcar king prawns, washed down by the local Manzanilla wine.

Racing dating back to the 19th century

Legend has it that Apollo unharnessed his chariot horses to rest when he reached the Sanlúcar coast.
Some historians attribute the origin of the races to the ones between the horses used to bring the fish to market, a theory that others dismiss as they were a test of strength and not speed in the style of English flat racing.

What is true is that horses, seafood dishes and enjoying summer evenings on the beach in this part of Andalusia are a well-established tradition. At the end of the 19th century, the aristocracy visited to Sanlúcar for a "dip in the sea" and it thus became one of the first tourist destinations in Spain, along with Santander and San Sebastián.

The horse races have been held since 1845 and today attract the best jockeys. Over time, the event has grown in prestige and popularity and there are now categories for jockeys (professionals), gentlemen (amateurs) and women riders. In 1981, the former Sanlúcar de Barrameda Horse Society, which has organised the races since, was refounded and that would mark the start of a new heyday for the event. The races are now the social, tourist and sports event of summer in the south of Spain.

An elegant city
The races are also an excellent opportunity to discover Sanlúcar de Barrameda, an elegant city on the Guadalquivir estuary, the most important river of Andalusia and which played a key role in the discovery of the New World. Christopher Columbus set sail from Sanlúcar on his third voyage to the Americas and Magellan left from here on his first trip round the world.

It underwent a period of economic prosperity thanks to the trade with the Americas and later with the influx of the aristocracy and the wineries, which would be a driving force in its economy and culture, and would leave their mark for forever on the city’s urban fabric.
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