Iji. O. Solomon goes to the races and finds an ideal excuse for starting New Year celebrations early

For the lovers of energetic sport, the open air, racing and a party atmosphere, theBudapesthorse racingparkofKincsemis the place to be for a nice weekend. Located on an 84 hectare space,KincsemParkis used for both thoroughbred and harness racing.

Thoroughbred horses are specially crossbred over the years specifically for racing and they are ridden directly from their back, while Standardbred horses are used for harness racing in which the horse pulls a two-wheel cart behind it which seats the jockey.

The park is reachable by the red metro at the Pillangó metro stop, and an underpass leads you directly into the free entry KincsemParknamed after the Hungarian champion horse of the 19th century “Kincsem”, its record of wins in European races is yet to be matched since then.

Like any other major racecourse bets are taken and you might just get lucky if you bet right. Going for less than 1 Euros or 200 forints, specialized bookmakers take the different bets for harness race which are for Saturdays and the different lengths of gallops which are held on Sundays, inexpensive but it’s always good to know at the back of your mind to place bets in moderation.

The atmosphere is always energetic as pounding hooves, muscle and man race to conquer the course and cross the finish line for a crowd which eagerly cheers them on the back of their toes in anticipation in a venue known for its inexpensive liquor and beer. There is a great flow of beer and sausage rolls to go with it in the electric atmosphere of old Austro-Hungarian glory.

The biggest event of the year is known as Ügetőszilveszter on the afternoon of New Years Eve and Hungarians are always eager to storm into Kincsem, especially since the revived interest in the sport since the Magyar nation produced another champion thoroughbred known as “Overdose” since 2007. Bought by Zoltán Mikóczy rather cheaply at an auction, fortune has smiled upon its owner as Overdose went on a winning streak right at the beginning of its career from its first twelve races in 2007.

Horses, like athletes, are symbols of national pride which carry the hopes of the people of nations either in the context of competitive sports or social needs. The Hungarian Champion “Overdose” certainly has been such; bought for a pittance and offered 6.5 million dollars for just a few months later, but the owner refused to sell. “You don’t sell dreams” he was quoted as saying.

Who knows you might just be betting on a champion when you visitKincsemPark, or even more, experiencing the birth of a new champion in the world of horse racing on your visit.