In France there are around 12,000 horse races a year, the UK averages around 10,000, and in Scandinavia ‘harness racing’ is huge. And here in Budapest? Not all expats know about the opportunity to enjoy a day or two at the races most weekends, as Kincsem Park hosts harness racing on the Saturday and flat racing on the Sunday.
Kincsem Park is situated near to Pillangó metro stop, and it’s a beautiful race track with a large modern stand, plus the old original stand which has recently been renovated. Stables line two sides of the grounds and everything you would expect at a race track is in place, a parade ground, winners enclosure, jockey’s weighing room which you can see through the glass walls and of course plenty of bars and betting terminals.
Betting in Hungary is through the tote system so you do not know how much you will win until you collect, you receive a dividend of every bet placed split between the people with winning tickets. Unfortunately unless you can pick an outsider or win an exotic bet (trifecta) chances are you will not win life changing amounts as most weekends Kincsem Park usually only attracts around four hundred people.
However last weekend was one of the biggest race meetings of the year, as the organisers coincided it with the annual ‘Food and Truck Show’, meaning there was fifty-four mobile units to cater for all your food and drink requirements. Most of the trucks mainly served ‘street food’ but there was a representation of worldwide cuisine from Bavarian Burgers to good old Fish & Chips.
A lot of the units were also just for beverages which helped quench the huge crowds thirst. Hopefully events like these will ensure most of the crowd who probably had not been to Kincsem before will return as it is an ideal family venue. There is an amazing children’s playground with a lot of the features made out of wood. Lots of space to run around and of course the horses to look at and the excitement of watching them race.
The biggest day of the year is the Hungarian Derby which is on Sunday the 3rd of July and attracts a crowd of around five thousand people and the crowd will tend to be a little bit more dressed up, most race days casual clothes are fine. Entry is normally free unless it is a bigger race meeting. There is a VIP restaurant that overlooks the course where you can book a table and have a nice meal while drowning your sorrows as another horse with a catchy name comes in last!
For more information and to check the calendar the Kincsem Park website is quite good and has an English page www.kinscempark.hu/ and if you do visit Kincsem be sure to know all about the famous horse the racetrrack is named after, winner of all fifty-four races it entered, Kincsem is a national icon and there is even a film coming out later this year based on her life.
Words and photos by Arthur John for xpatloop.com