Russian horse racing

Russian horse racing DEFAULT
Horse Racing Karmel Bars dubbed the Russian Enable

Russia: Before we go any further, let’s give credit where it’s due: most of the details here have come from Darren Thrussell’s Anglo German Racing newsletter. What happens in Central Europe would stay in Central Europe much of the time if not for Darren’s efforts – and that is certainly the case when it comes to the horse he has dubbed the ‘Russian Enable’.

This is mighty sprint mare Karmel Bars, who recorded her 14th consecutive victory when completing a hat-trick in the G1 Super Sprint for trainer Stanislav Kruglykhin at Pavlovsk Hippodrome earlier this month on the final day of the COVID-19-affected Russian season.

Having won the 6f dirt contest by 12 lengths in 2019, Karmel Bars scored by just a couple this time around under her jockey Ruslan Kruglykhin as she took her career record to 26 wins from 34 starts. It was the five-year-old’s seventh G1 win – Russian G1s, that is, rather than the internationally recognised variety.

Karmel Bars is a daughter of Russian-based sire Denbera Dancer, who won a Southwell handicap from ten starts in Britain for Mark Johnston. According to Anglo German Racing, he “has progressed into a very decent stallion in Russia”.

• Visit the Anglo German Racing website and their Facebook page
• More about Russian racing at the website

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Keeneland Grads Making Presence Felt in Russia

While the marquee horses and seven-figure fireworks are long since in the rear-view mirror when the Keeneland September Sale–the largest of its kind in the world–reaches its later books, there are still horses to be sold, even as the demand for those youngsters could begin to wane. Several years ago, in an effort to drum up interest in the latter stages of the sale, officials at the Lexington auction house began mining smaller, off-the-beaten-path markets, and those efforts have borne fruit in places like Russia, where Lyudovik (Constitution) became the fourth Keeneland graduate since 2014 to prevail in the $55,000 Russian Derby (RUS-G1, 2400m) at the historic Central Moscow Hippodrome last month.

“Dating back to long before I was here, we have made a concerted effort to find owners and trainers in emerging markets to get them to come and buy their Thoroughbreds here at Keeneland,” said Chip McGaughey, son of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who joined Keeneland in 2015 and acts as a liaison to these smaller racing jurisdictions. “Obviously you can see that it's had dividends with the success we've had in certain of those markets.”

Lyudovik, who became his sire's second winner overall when graduating at first asking in domestic Group 3 company at Moscow last May, was bred by Pope McLean, Marc McLean, Pope McLean, Jr. and Phil Hager and was purchased out of the 2018 September sale for $40,000 by Marc-Antoine Berghracht's M.A.B. Agency on behalf of his client Edward Mordukovich.

“Mr. Mordukovich is very keen on pedigrees and especially stallions and he follows American racing much more than I do,” the French agent explained. “The Constitutions are pretty special-looking horses and I said to him, 'We must buy one.' He quite liked that horse too, so we decided to go for one.”

He continued, “Most of the racing in Russia is on dirt, and for that reason, I like to buy those horses in America at Keeneland. Conditions [in Russia] can be pretty tough and sometimes it isn't very easy keeping them sound, so I would not be very keen on those big, scopey kinds of horses. I probably tend to focus more on the European-type horse, but those that have a pedigree for dirt.”

A winner of two of his four starts at two, Lyudovik–a son of Speightlass (Speightstown)–returned from an 11-month absence to finish a strong second in a local Group 2 over 2000 meters July 25 and accounted for fellow KEESEP grad Whiskey Lemon Bars (Lemon Drop Kid–Film Maker {Dynaformer}, $40,000 yearling purchase) by a half-length in the Derby Aug. 16 (see below, SC #4). Other Keeneland-sourced winners on the Derby undercard included General Palace (Palace Malice, $33,000 '19 KEESEP–video–#8) in the Criterium S. (RUS-G2, 1600m) and Gold Boy (Candy Ride {Arg}, $50,000 '18 KEEJAN, video–#3) in the City of Moscow S. (RUS-G2, 2400m).

“He's always complaining about the horses we bought that didn't turn out, and I say to him, 'Hang on, what about this one? What about that one? What about Lyudovik?' and he goes, 'You're right,'” Berghracht said of Mordukovich. “And then we won the Derby and everything is fine. He's a character. He's a big fan of horses, he loves the game. He also races Standardbreds and Arabians. He's a great ambassador.”


WATCH: Lyudovik winning the 2020 Russian Derby at Moscow

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Also on behalf of Mordukovich, Berghracht signed a ticket on a son of Commissioner just two hips prior to purchasing Lyudovik during session nine of the 2018 September Sale. Snapped up for just $6,000, Bud' Geroem broke his maiden in a domestic Group 2 race over the metric mile last September and added the Season Opening S. (RUS-G3) at nine furlongs first off the layoff May 17 (video, #6).

“We have a limited budget for Russia–we're used to spending between $20,000 and max $70,000 or $80,000,” Berghracht commented. “So Lyudovik was right in the middle of our range.”

In most any line of business, the repeat customer is coveted, and given the success of Keeneland graduates in Russia, the clients are only too happy to return, hoping that lightning will strike twice. In a COVID-abbreviated racing season in 2020, some 32 Keeneland sales graduates have won Russia's major events–10 at Group 1 level, 15 Group 2 winners and 12 Group 3 winners. And, in what was almost certainly a landmark achievement for the country, Tuz (Oxbow), a $7,000 graduate of the 2018 September sale who won his two starts at Pyatigorsk Racecourse by a combined margin of nearly 40 (yes, 40) lengths, ran a blinder to be second in the Listed Al Bastakiya S. at Meydan in Dubai this past March (video).

“It's a competitive landscape. Everyone wants to have their market share and American Thoroughbreds have proven to excel on dirt surfaces around the world,” McGaughey said. “If they have success and their industry grows, they may start out just buying $5,000 horses, but that is twenty $5,000 horses that maybe otherwise would not have had a home. As their market continues to grow, they're going to be inclined to come back to that source of success they had initially.”

Just five years ago, Russian interests acquired 60 horses for gross receipts of $1.7 million ($28,333 average), not an insignificant sum of money deep into the sale. Last year, they purchased no fewer than 112 horses for $4.1 million ($36,607 average). McGaughey is confident the trend will continue in a positive direction.

“The industry over there is definitely growing and they have made strides,” he said. “They've been working to try to become part of the IFHA [International Federation of Horseracing Authorities], the French PMU has set up their tote system and simulcasting throughout different regions.”

Foreign participation at this year's September Sale is likely to be limited by travel restrictions currently in place, but McGaughey expects Russian interests to remain just as active as years past.

“With the pandemic, international sales are going to be down, but optimistically for the Russian market, there are currently no travel restrictions for Russian nationals coming into the United States,” he explained. “The majority of people I've spoken to are coming. There are a few exceptions, as the Russian Consulates are closed and are not issuing new visas at the moment, so some of them won't be able to participate. But 90-95% of those planning to come over are still coming.”

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Horse Racing is on in Moscow

Moscow horse racing is conducted at the Hippodrome. The latter accommodates no less than 10 thousand horse racing enthusiasts, and is luxuriously spread over almost 50 acres of land. Trotting in memory of top Generals of the erstwhile USSR, feature at this site apart from the usual flat races. The Hippodrome is a grand structure, designed after the typical style of Moscow architecture. It features a modern pari-mutuel computer system, so visitors can use outings to indulge in some modest sports betting.

The Orlov Trotter is a famous breed which is reared and trained by the people who manage horse racing at the Moscow Hippodrome. This breed is a graceful trotter, and sturdy and full of courage, though other 20th century breeds have developed higher speeds.

Though Russian horse racing is yet to acquire the glamour and high stakes of its peers in other countries, a visit to the Hippodrome serves to complete an impression of the noble and gallant heritage of this land and its people.

April 2021 Webinar - Griffiths de Kock Racing - Russian Revolution Special
With the Coronavirus taking in hold all over the globe, horse racing fans are scouring the back pages of newspapers for racecards of any regard. 

For instance, I have never really looked at horse racing at Thurles, Ireland. But it will be this Saturday (21/03/20) because apart from racing in the United States and Australia there isn't a lot of racing going on. 

I know some people like to bet on two flies crawling up a wall but I would rather stick with equine if that is possible.

Unless you know a fruit fly called Frankel. 

Just for the sake of it, I thought ''What about Russia!'' 

That's Russia horse racing. I can't say I have ever thought much about horseracing from every corner of the globe but in this time it makes me wonder if other countries are struggling in a similar way or the horses are racing whatever is thrown at them. 

I once wrote an article about horse racing in Antigua, for a good friend who has a tourism website. I must admit, the horseracing, although thoroughbreds, reminded me of something back in the day and it was simply a three-horse race. I was left with the impression that every thoroughbred horse race in Antigua was a three-cornered affair running round a course that looked like something homemade and a commentator who was found from the crowd. I don't want to knock it because it was still a race and I'm pretty sure they had betting. I mean, you don't have to dress up in top hat and tails to enjoy a day at the races or rub shoulders with her majesty the Queen. 

I think I'd rather enjoy a day in Antigua. 

Anyway, back to Russia. 

Did you know they have horse racing in Russia? 

I guess you imagine, like me, that does just because it makes sense. 

However, I have no idea how it works in a communist country. 

Anyway, from reading what information is on the internet, I see that horse racing in Russia takes place at two main venues and a 20th-century landmark.  

Central Moscow Hippodrome (pictured)

It was founded in 1834 and the largest horse racing track in Russia. It is the finest Stalinist architecture to be seen. It has been enjoyed by members of the Russian imperial family and Emperor Nicholas II. 

Taking a look at the website I can see what looks to be trotting horse racing. Even trying to translate the page to English doesn't help as I cannot make sense of the Russian language. I wish I could translate because I am sure it would be an interesting read. I've found another website which makes for easier reading. 


I will do my best to convey something about Russian horse racing. It seems that the horse racing covers both traditional racing and trotting. 

They have horse racing on Saturdays and Sundays at the Central Moscow Hippodrome. They have betting, which looks like it is done on a Tote basis. The season runs from May - September (trotting races take place all year round). The racecourse covers a circuit of 18000 metres long. 

Horses are trained and race at the venue. 

Interesting, the horses are taken to the ring at 5am and training sessions are over at 8am, to keep away from prying eyes, a tradition taken from English horse racing 

Tickets cost 150 rubles (£1.60). It sounds very good value. 

Covered stalls with a seating capacity of 3,500. Tours are available by appointment. 

Trotting race in the snow (troika races). 

One of the feature races is the President's Cup Horse Race every June since 2012. In wintertime, horses compete in the Russian Troika Championship. (This is over a long distance with a team of three horses.) It is said to be the perfect combination of speed, power, and endurance.

President's Cup Horse Race

This prestigious race takes place in July of each year with attendance from presidents from Bolivia, Venezuela, and Iran. 

The race has a cash prize of 10 million rubles ($304,000). The Cup is presented by Vladimir Putin. In fact, six races take place on the day with a total prize fund of 28 million rubles ($867,000).   

Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov told journalists in Moscow that the race is not only "spectacular" but acts as a "strong incentive for the further development of our country’s thoroughbred horse breeding."

It is interesting to learn that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has sent horses to run at this meeting. 

Readers may remember Kadyrov wanted to run horses at the Australian Melbourne Cup, which caused outrage to human rights activists regarding gross human rights abuses in Chechnya. Kadyrov's' horses have been banned from racing in the United States. 

From what I can understand, Russia has five racecourses throughout the country. Akbuzat Hippodrome, Kazan Hippodrome, Krasnoyarsk Hippodrome, Moscow Hippodrome, Pskov Hippodrome. 

Horse Racing In Moscow (1958) Pathe


Horse racing russian

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