The Sanlúcar Horse Races are one of the biggest sporting and social events of the Andalusian summer, declared of International Tourist Interest. These days it will focus once again, thousands of residents and visitors on the beaches of Bajo de Guía. They attract horses, riders and spectators from all over Europe. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 50,000 spectators assemble on the beaches to enjoy the races.
There are two race meetings about a fortnight apart with the dates depending on the tide timetables for August. This year it will be held from 10 to August 12 and 25 to 27 this month. They take place on the beach at Sanlúcar de Barrameda near Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) in Andalucia. Officially these famous horse races have been taking place since 1845. This year 2011 celebrates the 166th edition of the races. You can check this year's races dates on the official Sanlucar Horse Races website (press HERE).
These races are considered the oldest in Spain and also hold the title of the ancient world held at beaches rather than a racetrack. Riders wear traditional colours and caps and the races are run over distances ranging between 1.2km and 2km. Prize money over the meeting amounts to several million euros, with winnings for each race ranging from a few hundred to several thousand. The biggest prize goes to the winner of the 'Gran Premier Ciudad de Sanlúcar' which takes place on the final day of racing over a 2km course.
This little town lies on the estuary of the River Guadalquivir overlooking the Doñana National Park. Even without the horses Sanlúcar is a charming place to visit. Historically, it served as the setting off point for the expeditions of Columbus in 1498 and Magellan in 1519 and is well known as part of the famous "Sherry Triangle" along with Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria. Visitors should head down to the riverside at Bajo de Guía where there are some superb restaurants offering local seafood delicacies which you can enjoy with a glass of manzanilla as the sun goes down over Doñana.
To see more about these races, click on this link: