Sorry for the absence, but I’ve been preparing tonight’s post. I knew very little about the Greek race course, so I had to do some research to know enough to write a blog post! So, yeah, this is the history of the Greek race course.
First of all, if you ask a Greek about their feelings for the Athens race course, you will come up with different answers. First of all, it is of high importance itself, as it is the only race course in the country. Also, there is a historical dimension; it is one of the landmarks -or symbols, if you prefer- of our capital city, specifically a landmark for the Athenian area Delta Falirou. But of course, some people will speak to you about addiction to gambling and other concerns which touch all race courses in the world, more or less.
So, here is the story and sorry if I’ve got “lost in translation” when it comes to very old, official estabishments.
Officially, horse racing was established in Greece in 1925, with the foundation of the “Hellenic Privileged Horse-Racing Company”. One year before this, the company launched intensive works in Delta Falirou, in Athens (near Piraeus) on a 300-square metre lot granted by the Greek state. The premises included a special arena and special cabins for VIPs and judges.
In 1926, the “Jockey Club of Greece” was established, with the tasks to supervise the horse-racing activities, to establish a specific set of rules, to undertake the improvemenand strenghtening of the Greek horse breed, as well as to be in charge of the distribution of financial and moral winnings (I don’t understand the moral winning thing, but whatever, jockeys do).
Successful gamblers were granted 85% of their winnings, while the remaining 15% was granted to the horse-racing company, the state, the charities of Athens and Piraeus and the Ministry of Agriculture.
At that time, races were always joined by a small number of jockeys, as only 70 horses were brought to the race course when it was established. Besides, schedule gaps were often covered with military races. Initially there were only 36 jockeys, 13 of whom were non-Greeks.
After the World War II, the race course was a pile of debris and all that was left were one or two heavy pieces of equipment. But with private initiative, the place was re-constructed and kept functioning until 2003, when it was transferred to Markopoulo, in the region of Mesogea, close to Athens International Airport.
The new establishment is considered the biggest and most modern in Europe. Its 30,650-square metre establishment has a five- floor building and accommodes 1600 stalls, veterinarian clinic, maintainance unit, space for food storage, VIP area and administration facilities. Moreover, the new race course has 6,500 viewer seats and 4,000 parking spaces.
Here, I have managed to collect some photos: