Approx no. of meetings
S5 from FriedrichStrasse or a far more convoluted route on the day due to engineering works, involving the S3, U5 and S5 for the last 4 stops arriving at Rennbahn Hoppegarten from which it is a 5 minute walk to the track.
Betting came in the form of the Toto booths, like out Tote and again like France, no tic-tac men. The food concessions were friendly and well priced and there was ample seating. There were plenty of places to drink and the prices are again very reasonable compared with English tracks. We were made to feel welcome even with the occassional language barrier.
We stayed in the Westin Grand in the centre of town just 10 minutes walk from Unter den Linden. Other hotels are available, but this was a nice experience with a little bit of style. We would highly recommend.
One the gate €8 for adults but we paid in advance to get seats in the grandstand. The €39 eas excellent value as it included drinks, betting vouchers and race programmes and as you can see the seats were to die for.
(2) Return before challenge complete - Its a moot point as the challenge is finished
10 August 2019 – UK Tracks (61), Irish Tracks (5), Row of World Tracks (3)
Having completed the Uk mainland tracks back in April of this year, Sir and Madam Hoof find themselves looking for new challenges. We have completed 5 of the tracks in Ireland and look forward to finding out more about that fabulous country as and when the opportunity arises, but now for something different. We have decided to do two things by way of additional horse based activities; firstly to attend more of the world's top races, we already made the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival, but now we will focus of the five British classics and then look to the big international events such as the Kentucky Derby and the Arc.
The second challenge is more about seeing different horse racing in terms of style and setting. We have already been lucky enough to visit Compiegne in France and Garrison Savannah in Barbados, but this weekend we visited out first German track at Hoppegarten, just outside Berlin. We took Nicolas, the cultural attaché from Canada and his beautiful fiancée the lady Marina, minor royalty of Macedonia. Although it was our first track in Deutschland, it was their first experience racing anywhere, so this was going to be fun and an education for all.
My German is not the best and so the day got off to a less than perfect start when the rail line out to the track was under maintenance for the day, with not much in the way of signage at FriedrichStrasse Station. Eventually, we found an alternative route with the help of the excellent ticket office staff, (they printed us an itinerary for the new route of 3 changes, and sent us on our way) but this did make us half an hour later getting to the track than originally planned. It was worth the wait.
Rennbahn Hoppegarten has been racing since 1868, and although there were some doldrum years during the historic unpleasantness, the track is now back to its former glory and is considered the Ascot of Germany. We opted for good seats in the main stand and these operated as small boxes with non-fixed seats. As I had purchased seating in box A9, the view was breath-takingly good and even from the lowest level we were afforded an excellent view of the track and the finishing line.
Rather like Ascot and interestingly Ripon, there was a bandstand with a brass band playing for most of the day, with tunes more familiar than would have been thought possible. It was situated behind the main stand (built in 1922) and alongside the most excellent food concessions. None of your world-wide street food, but rather a collection of amazing German meat-based stalls, serving great quality food at reasonable prices. Next to the food we have the TOTO totalizer betting stands and then the parade rings. For anyone who has been to Haydock Park, it is very reminiscent of this covered as it is in beautiful mature trees. The only drama of the day being the handler of "Edith" who took her horse the wrong way around the ring and then had to correct hurriedly to avoid a horse-based pile-up.
The track itself has a ring structure but also a long sprint straight which connects to the main track about 3 furlongs out to share the same finish line (not that you will furlongs mentioned anywhere, this is all metric and for a few races, slightly confusing). On the subject of confusion, placing bets in a foreign tongue had its challenges too. Each way is basically "Sieg und platz" - literally Victory and place, but getting a reverse exacta was something a little more hit and miss to achieve. It did however add to the fun and Madam Hoof inevitably come out on top.
All in all, this was a special day, and one that will encourage us to travel to more courses in Germany and other countries across the world. Racing is a sport that always seems to encourage friendly interactions between strangers with this common interest.