Gran Premio de Madrid - Racing Guide
Most people wouldn’t have heard of the Gran Premio de Madrid, however this is a race steeped in history and is quickly becoming a popular date in the racing calendar. The race was first run over 135 years ago and was previously held at the Hipodromo de la Castellana. However, since then, the race has changed location numerous times moving from Casa Real el Hipodromo de Aranjuez to the Hipodromo de la Zarzuela.
Interestingly, the Gran Premio de Madrid did not take place between 1994 and 2006. This hiatus was caused by the racecourse becoming bankrupt. Thankfully for racegoers, the famous race returned after the racecourse was reopened by new owners 13 years after it had closed. The new race now takes place over a distance of just over 1m 4f and is open to 3 year olds and above.
One of the most noticeable features of the racecourse are the stands which stretch along the home straight. The stands were designed by the famous Spanish engineer, Eduardo Torroja and given their distinctive design and white appearance, they are unmissable. In fact, the roof of these stands are said to be weightless and are certainly a talking point!
What to do in Madrid...
The Hipotour is an initiative at the Hipodromo de la Zarzuela that is run by two female ex-jockeys, Isabel Vaquero and Claudine Cazalis. The tour of the racecourse and training centre takes place every Thursday just after 9pm and gives racegoers the opportunity to experience the racecourse from a different perspective. Being guided by experts, racegoers will be able to see the facilities in more detail and see the horses train on the track. Also, the guides themselves speak a range of different languages including Spanish, English and French, ensuing that everyone is catered for. This is definitely on the ‘must-do’ list!
Gran Via is one of the busiest streets in Madrid and for good reason too! Stretching over a distance of nearly 1 mile, Gran Via is the perfect place to pick up some gifts for the friends and family back home, with hundreds of retail stores to choose from. The shopping area attracts over 10 million people a year so there is a really vibrant atmosphere all year round.
Museums and Galleries
Madrid is well known for its wealth of museums and galleries, so if you wanted to brush up on your history, then your in the perfect place. The main area for this is known as Madrid’s Art Triangle where you will find the Museo del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia. All located within walking distance of each other, it provides you the opportunity to see all of them within the space of a day!
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
If museums and art galleries aren't your thing, then perhaps you could visit the world famous Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Unfortunately there wont be any live games on to watch as the Gran Premio de Madrid takes place on the last weekend of June. You can however, book a stadium tour which take place between the hours of 10am til 4:30pm.
Madrid literally has endless amounts of attractions, so it would definitely be worthwhile to spend a few more days in the city after the races. Here are just a selection of a few other sites to visit: Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Espana and Retiro Park.
If your travelling from abroad, you will more than likely be flying into the Barajas International Airport which is just over 10km from the centre of Madrid. More importantly, the airport is only 20 minute drive from the racecourse and surrounding hotels, making it very straightforward to get to. If you decide to stay in the centre of Madrid, it is also about a 20 minute drive to the racecourse if you get a taxi. There is also the option of racegoers using their own car as the racecourse offers plenty of free parking. Alternatively, you can catch the ‘658’ bus from the city centre which takes you to within walking distance of the racecourse. I would recommend avoiding the metro to the racecourse as there are no direct links to the racecourse from the city centre.
On racedays, the racecourse provides free transport from both Paseo Moret or Avenida de la Complutense. This service runs for one hour before and after the races and is definitely worth taking advantage of!