Horse racing is a popular pastime in Berlin, and is considered a great way for the whole family to spend some fun time outdoors. With the summer racing season in full swing, now is the best opportunity to experience the thrill of the bets or simply go for a relaxing picnic with friends at one of Berlin’s three race tracks.
Berlin is home to the largest race track in the entire country: Rennbahn Hoppegarten. The track is located on the outskirts of the city, and has been hosting world-class racing events since 1868. Many important races take place here, most notably the Grand Price of Berlin, the highlight of the season. This year it will take place on August 12th. It is a Group I flat race over a distance of 2,400 m (about a mile and a half) and is open to three-year-old thoroughbreds or older.
Other notable group races include The Oleander-Rennen (Group 2), Soldier Hollow Diana-Trial (Group 2), Preis der Deutschen Einheit (Group 3), and Silbernes Pferd (Group 3).
Trabrennbahn Mariendorf, located at Mariendorfer Damm, is the harness racing track where exciting races take place every season and total attendance reaches around 150,000 guests. Berlin-Mariendorf generates 45 percent of the total betting turnover on German race tracks and hosts over 650 races annually, making it one of the most successful racing tracks in Germany. Opened in 1913, spread across 20 hectares, it contains 32 stables and can accommodate over 800 horses. The most important event of the season is the German Derby-Week, attended by around 40,000 spectators. Around 700 horses will compete for various prizes, amounting to EUR 1 million. Especially popular is the German Traber Derby, first held in 1895 and hosted by Mariendorf since 1952. It traditionally takes place on the first weekend of August and is where the best horses battle for victory. The event isn’t only about the races, as visitor can also enjoy a fashion show, diverse culinary offering and fireworks.
Open every Sunday, this beautiful race track is a bit like a trip to the past, and will make you feel nostalgic about the golden age of horse racing.
Another track used for harness racing is the Pferdesportpark Karlshorst, located in Lichtenberg. It opened in 1894 and was initially used for steeplechase racing. It is a historic site where army horse races were held already in 1862. After the WWII, the course was rebuilt to become the only harness racing track in GDR. It was at that time that its area doubled, but the part of the land was sold in 2004 due to economic crisis. Today, the race track is thriving again, hosting races twice a month and a harness driving school.