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19 June 2023

When conference delegates from many of Europe’s governing bodies arrived for a day’s racing at Służewiec racecourse in Warsaw in mid-May, they were met with a warm welcome and the inquiring microphone of broadcaster Annamaria Sobierajska.

Covering horseracing as a journalist has allowed me to delve deep into the world of this fascinating sport. I have had the opportunity to speak with top trainers and jockeys, learning about their training techniques, race strategies, and personal stories. Through my writing, I aim to share these insights with readers and help promote the sport to a wider audience.

I have been involved in racing for as long as I can remember. As an owner, my dad used to take me to the races when I was a little girl. I started my journey as a hobbyist and rider. I was also a racehorse owner; it was my love of the sport that led me to become a professional journalist. I began by doing interviews and films about racehorses, but soon realised this was not enough to help grow the sport in Poland.

Dedicated racing channel

The creation of a TV channel dedicated to horseracing has been a game-changer for the sport in our country. The channel was created on the initiative of the Warsaw Race organizers, a group of racing enthusiasts who recognized the need for a centralized platform to showcase the races taking place across the country. After months of planning and development, the channel was launched to a great reception, and has since become the go-to destination for racing fans and enthusiasts.  It has been exactly four years since our channel was launched to showcase news, interviews, and analysis from horseracing across Poland. 

Annamaria interviews Dr Paull Khan (Secretary-General European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation) and Julie Harrington (Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority) at Służewiec racecourse

Over the last few years, we have gone from being focused on domestic horseracing news to covering global events. I have been commentating for sports television on the biggest international races and providing editorial support to a dedicated horseracing and equestrian sport magazine.

Służewiec racecourse – truly unique

Służewiec Racecourse is a truly unique destination that stands out on a global scale. Built in the 1930s (just months before the outbreak of WWII), it is one of the oldest and most prestigious racecourses in Europe. To date, it continues to host exciting horseracing events. Its timeless architecture, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking green scenery make it a must-visit destination for enthusiasts of this prestigious sport.

With over 46 racing days taking place in Warsaw alone, Służewiec Racecourse is a hub of activity and excitement, during the eight-month racing season from April to November. Nevertheless, the passion for horseracing doesn’t stop there – there are also 12 racing days in Wrocław and four more by the seaside in Sopot, providing ample opportunities for young people to get involved in the industry.

European racing delegates enjoying a day’s racing at Służewiec racecourse

The next generation

Getting young people involved in horseracing is a top priority in Poland. There are numerous initiatives aimed at fostering a love for this sport among the next generation. For example, there is a women-only project called ‘Women Power Series’, which provides a platform for female jockeys to showcase their skills and compete against one another. This project not only promotes gender equality in the sport, but also encourages young women to pursue a career in horseracing.

Another initiative is a series of races just for young riders. These races are designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for young people to learn and develop their skills in the sport. This type of race offers participants a chance to compete against their peers and gain valuable experience.

Training courses of various kinds are also available to young people interested in horseracing. These courses cover a range of topics, including stable management, horse care, and riding techniques and marketing skills. They are designed to provide young people with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the industry and can help to open doors for a range of career opportunities.

Overall, the future of Polish racing looks promising. The country has a rich history and tradition of the sport and we are all working hard to grow and develop the industry.

Horse Welfare paramount

We know that there are also challenges for the sport in the coming years. One of the biggest areas of focus is to continue to ensure the welfare and safety of the horses and riders. This is an issue that the industry takes very seriously, and there are numerous regulations and guidelines in place to protect the welfare of the animals and the people involved in the sport. It is a priority to continue to monitor and improve these measures to ensure that the highest standards are being met.

We shouldn’t overlook the potential opportunities for growth and development of the industry – there are many reasons to get excited. For example, there is a growing interest in online betting and streaming, which could help to increase the visibility and popularity of horseracing over here.  It could also help further commercialize the sport and bring in revenue to stimulate development.

I am optimistic about the future of Polish racing. Please come and see for yourselves!

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