SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA HORSE RACES ON THE BEACH
Sanlúcar is located in the province of Cádiz, at the mouth of the River Guadalquivir estuary, overlooking the Doñana National Park.
In 1498, Christopher Columbus launched his famous expedition from here, and sailed to what we now know as America. Once the New World had been discovered, Sanlúcar became an important port, and the economy boomed due to this new trading activity which was keenly encouraged by the Dukes of Medina Sidonia.
Nowadays, Sanlúcar, with it`s strong muslim origins, which can be seen in the narrow, winding streets, has numerous monuments and many stunning buildings. It`s beaches are magnificent, with beautifully soft sand, and they stretch for miles.
One of the most well known events to be held in Sanlúcar, is the annual horse racing, this takes place over two long weekends in August – this year the dates are: 12/13/14 August, and 26/27/28 August.
The horse races are held on Las Piletas beach and start at approximately 18.00hrs. These races are now part of a national series of horse events that encompasses Madrid, San Sebastian and Seville, and offers total prize monies ranging from 2-3 million Euros!
The origins of this event spring from 1845, when the local men whose job it was to transport the fish from various ports, used to race their horses along the beaches. The present day horse races are a huge event, attracting competitors and spectators from around the world, and during these horse racing weekends, the population of Sanlúcar temporarily explodes with literally thousands of visitors.
If you`re thinking of visiting this event, you`ll need to book your accommodation well in advance, and get to the beach in good time in order to establish an advantageous spot from where you can view the racing. Jerez and Cádiz are two alternative options for accommodation, and there are buses that run on a regular basis to Sanlúcar.
During these weekends, the beaches aren`t just full of people and horses. There are many small ́casitas` set up to serve refreshments; alongside the many stalls taking bets on the race winners, including one that takes children`s bets! The beach resembles a race course, as spectator stands have been erected, along with various paddocks and of course the winners` enclosure.
The crowd of spectators provides a noisy and excitable atmosphere, with entire families cheering on their favourites. If you love to have a flutter on the horses, then this is certainly the place to be!
If you fancy a scrumptious meal afterwards, head towards the the riverside at Bajo de Guía, where you can enjoy seafood delicacies accompanied by a glass or two of Manzanilla!