Organized annually, National Gallop is one of the most prominent traditional events in Hungary. Between 14-16 September, Hungarian horse riders gather at Heroes’ Square to compete for the Golden Spur received by the champion.
During the weekend Andrássy út turns into a conventional fair, boosting Hungarian culture and gastronomy in an incomparable atmosphere. Preserving traditions, bridge-building between the Hungarian countryside and the capital city, as well as emphasizing equestrianism as part of Hungarian culture are the main aims of the National Gallop.
In 2018 the National Gallop’s attention shifts onto the future generation of horse riders, that is, children. Riding instructors, clubs and schools from all over the country will be represented alongside their youngest pupils to encourage the youth. Moreover, 110 little hussars will march at Heroes’ Square.
Sand Castle in the Middle of the City
The racetrack built around the millennial memorial site at Heroes’ Square may seem to be an unusual venture. There are strict rules horse races need to obey regarding racetracks that serve rider safety and the convenience of all participants. During the build-up of a racetrack, the biggest challenge they need to overcome is the creation of such conditions in the concrete urban environment that are ideal for horses. To do so, multiple layers of special sand granules are used to create a not too deep ground that helps avoid slipping. The hoofs of the horses may sink 1-3 centimetres into the ground; however, harder or deeper surfaces pose a danger of injury.
Another hardship course builders need to face includes time constraints as they only have one and a half days to create a sandy ground on top of the concrete surface. Apart from the 440-meter long, 10-12-meter wide racetrack and the 10x80m warm-up field, the mobile grandstand and other service units need to be built, too. Since the first National Gallop was held, the arcs of the racetrack curves were reconstructed. This alteration was needed so that the horses would be able to run faster with greater comfort.
National Gallop offers a chance to all riding clubs, horse farms, horse owners and riders to take part in the competition. There are two possible ways to sign up for the Heroes’ Square race. Horsemen either participate in regional qualifying races, and if they are among the first three who cross the finish line, they automatically become eligible for the finals, or register for the gallop by paying an entry fee. Above 5 (born in or before 2013), horses of any breed and gender may compete, except for those with unknown origins, Argentine Polo Ponies, Akhal-Teke, Thoroughbred and half-bred horses.
The Winner Takes It All
The winners of the qualifying, semi-final and final races receive a certain amount of prize money. Apart from prize money, the absolute winner of the gallop earns the right to participate in next year’s race. The horse that wins the gallop three consecutive times at Heroes’ Square will become the eternal champion of National Gallop and can’t race again.
We’ll update you on this year’s programs in details soon, but in case you can’t wait any longer to find out more about the events related to the National Gallop, you’ll find all the necessary information here!