The Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Horse Racing Society of Sanlúcar de Barrameda) was founded in 1845 and begun racing horses on the 1,800m stretch of beach at the mouth of the Río Guadalquivir on 31 August of the same year. Although this is the first official race recorded, it is evidenced that the first pounding of hooves took place between work horses who were pitted against each other by their owners while transporting fish from the ports to the local markets. From here the Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda were born, the oldest horse racing event in Spain. 

The competition consists of a total of 23 races that take place from the 9 to 27 August, traditionally in two three-day cycles on the second and fourth weeks. Three of these races are considered particularly prestigious and one of which is known as the “Grand Prix” of Andalucía. Furthermore, for the 2019 edition, one of the race awards has been renamed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the First Circumnavigation of the World on 20 September. The Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda is integrated into the national circuit of official equestrian competitions alongside races celebrated in San Sebastián, Seville and Mijas meaning that they are subject to the same norms and regulations. The horse racing event was declared a ‘Fiesta of International Tourist Interest of Spain’ in 1997 and now sees around 35,000 visitors on each day of the event. Not to mention the 300 accredited journalists from over 100 national media who cover the event every year.

Even without the horses, Sanlúcar is a charming place to visit having historically served as the setting-off point for Magellan’s First Circumnavigation of the World (hence this year’s award in honour of the 5th centenary) and complete with charming restaurants serving seafood delicacies and the finest sherries for which the region is so famously known. However, the Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda is able to offer visitors a buzz of excitement as they watch one of Spain’s oldest sporting traditions unfold beneath the warm Andalucían sun.


Image credit © Real Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar.

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