A new dawn at Hoppegarten

05 Oct 2013 Comments 0

145 Years ago, Prussian King Wilhelm 1 attended the opening ceremony of the Hoppegarten racecourse, known today as one of the best turf course in Germany. As Berlin’s premier course, its heyday came during the years 1925 to 1945 when over 1200 horses trained at its six training tracks. Sadly, the war intervened and in 1945 the property spanning 775 hectares was confiscated from the Union-Klub. The oldest Jockey Club in Germany, the Union-Klub was considered to be aristocratic and hence an enemy of the working class.


Situated in the communist eastern part of Berlin, Hoppegarten found itself on the wrong side of the wall after the war and it would take 45 years before racing once again took place on its green turf. On 31 March 1990, six months after the iron curtain finally vanished, the first race since unification took place at Hoppegarten. The course was sold out with 40 000 avid racegoers attending.


Today Hoppegarten is owned by the London-based financier, Gerhard Schöningh and is home to several Group races, including the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin, run during July. Yearly the season culminates on the 3rd of October with the Group 3 Westminster Preis der Deutschland Einheit, won convincingly this year by the Peter Schiergen trained Neatico.


The racing was exciting and despite the freezing temperatures, 12800 fans packed out the course. Added attractions were a visit by War Horse puppet Joey and the appearance of the bay overo thoroughbred Silvery Moon. Despite not having won a race yet, the striking coloured two-year-old is so popular that he has his own facebook page with over 2700 fans.


With a Group 1 victory behind his name, Neatico was the leading fancy for the main race and the six-year-old did not disappoint, charging clear before easing down to win convincingly under Andrasch Starke. Enthusiastic celebrations by his connections followed, with the appreciative crowd packed around the winner’s enclosure. Indeed a fitting ending to a great day’s racing.


Hoppegarten may not be back to its glory days yet, but the turf track is still one of the best in the country and the racecourse caters to the visitor’s every whim. So if you want to experience German racing at its best and in the most beautiful of surroundings, then head for Hoppegarten, you will definitely not be disappointed.


Fans lining the home straight




Racegoers come in all shapes, sizes and ages




Joey the War Horse puppet rearing in front of the grandstand




Silvery Moon, a study in brown and white.




Silvery Moon in action in the second race





Neatico stretching out under Andrasch Starke wins the Group 3 Westminster Preis der Deutschen Einheit





Starke salutes the crowd as Neatico returns





The crowd around the winner's enclosure





Herr Ostermann celebrating Neatico's victory



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