The 16th National Gallop will welcome visitors next weekend, between September 30 and 1 October at a new location, Szilvásvárad, the home of the nationally treasured Lipizzaner horse breed, as announced on the M1 news channel during their Thursday broadcast.
‘For fifteen years, we held the Gallop on Heroes’ Square in Budapest. Now, we thought we’d…move the National Gallop to Szilvásvárad, one of the capitals of our equestrian world and a major hub for Hungarian tourism,’ Kristóf Szotyori Nagy, the race director, commented on the change. He added that the new location provides adequate infrastructure and facilities for the safe organization of the competition. The equestrian stadium’s track has been well-tested and is considered ideal from an animal welfare perspective.
Preliminary heats were held at ten locations in Hungary and five locations beyond its borders. As Szotyori Nagy explained, 60 settlements qualified for the 15 preliminary heats.
Responding to a question, the director pointed out that there would be several changes compared to previous years. In Szilvásvárad, four riders will start in one race instead of the previous five, but the track’s length will remain the same.
‘Perhaps the most significant change is that only Hungarian-bred horses can compete,’
he emphasized, explaining that this decision aims to support Hungarian sports horse breeding. As in previous years, there will be an international race with eight countries participating. Another significant change is that this year, the international race competitors will ride Lipizzaner horses.
Regarding the ‘Small Hussar Gallop’, a record 32 settlements will send their young riders to the competition this year. In this race, participants aged 10 to 16 ride ponies. On Saturday, the preliminary heats will take place with the participation of 60 riders, while on Sunday, the riders from the 16 settlements that made it to the middle round will compete. The winner of the competition, who will raise the decorative sword on victory hill, will be chosen from the four riders in the final on Sunday afternoon.
The National Gallop stands as a cherished annual celebration that harmoniously melds equestrian sports, cultural heritage, and fervent national pride within Hungary, and whose unique atmosphere is incomparable. This iconic event serves as
an enduring testament to the country’s profound historical ties to horses, exemplifying the unity and rich traditions that define Hungarian culture.
As the horses thunder down the racecourse on Budapest’s (or in this case, Szilvásvárad’s) historic sites, and the strains of folk music fill the air, the National Gallop continues to be a vivid reminder of the nation’s storied past and an affirmation of its cultural legacy. Beyond the racetrack, it embodies the spirit of community and patriotism, bolstering local economies and ensuring the preservation and promotion of Hungary’s treasured horse breeds and equestrian traditions. In every sense, this remarkable event remains a captivating reflection of Hungary’s vibrant cultural identity.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/M1/MTI