Crystal Cup Racing Guide
So what is the Crystal Cup?
The Crystal Cup is relatively new to the racing world, having been introduced to the European racing calendar 8 years ago. The European competition attracts some of the biggest names within cross country steeplechasing whether it be jockeys, trainers or horses.
The Crystal Cup is arranged in a series format with a total of 11 races which are located at some of the most notorious racecourses within Europe. Some of the big racecourses which feature include Cheltenham, Waregem, Merano and Pardubice.
The Crystal Cup’s races occur on a monthly basis starting in February in Pau and coming to a conclusion at the worldwide famous Cheltenham Racecourse in December. In between these two dates, the Crystal Cup visits premier racecourses in France, Poland, Belgium, Italy and the Czech Republic.
A selection of some of the racecourses...
Wroclaw is one of the most recent additions to the Crystal Cup, holding its first race in 2016. This racecourse is the first summer race of the Crystal Cup taking place during the second week of June.
Despite being on Crystal Cup calendar only a matter of a few years, the Partynice Racecourse is well established opening in 1907, and is one of only 3 racecourses in Poland. The racecourse is home to some big fixtures including both the Wielka Wroclawska Steeplechase and the Wielka Partynicka Hurdle.
The Partynice Racecourse is very accessible regardless of how you plan to travel which makes the occasion far more stress-free! If your travelling by plane, Wroclaw has one of Europe’s most efficient airports since it’s new terminal was built for the 2012 European Football Championships. Also, being just 13km from the town centre, it is ideal for racegoers!
If you decide not to fly directly into Wroclaw, the trains have you covered! Wroclaw’s train station was also redeveloped for the Euro’s in 2012 and has direct links with Poland’s largest cities including Krakow, Warsaw and Poznan.
If you’ve booked for a few days, there is endless entertainment options for racegoers to enjoy outside of the race grounds. Arguably one of the strangest, but most popular sights near the racecourse are Wroclaw’s Gnomes. Believe it or not, there are over 350 gnomes dotted around the city, so you definitely won’t miss them! Another popular sight is the Old Town which is home to the restored Market Square. This area of Wroclaw is surrounded by a diverse range of historic churches, canals and cobbled streets.
Other attractions include the District of Mutual Respect and Centennial Hall which are also located in the The Old Town, as well as Ostrow Tumski which is also known as ‘Cathedral Island’.
Recommended hotels - Sofitel Wroclaw Old Town, Platinum Palace, Park Hotel Diament, Mercure Wroclaw Centrum and Ibis Styles Wroclaw Centrum
Next on the Crystal Cup fixture list is Waregem, which is home to the Hippodrome Racecourse. This meeting takes place on the last week of August and with a prize of €100,000, it is one of the biggest races throughout the entire year! The racecourse itself is constantly growing and last year they opened a new stand, which pushes the capacity of the racecourse beyond 40,000!
Although holding various other well-known race meets, the Hippodrome Racecourse is most famous for the Crystal Cup race which is known as the Grand Steeple-Chase de Flandres. What makes this event even more special, is that this race is the only day of jumps racing in Belgium!
Although Waregem doesn’t have a major airport itself, racegoers can easily fly into nearby airports such as Lille (located 51km from Waregem) or alternatively Brussels and Ostend-Bruges International Airport. Both Lille and Brussels are directly linked to Waregem via train which means you’ll be at the races in no time!
If you have time to kill outside of the races, then why not brush up on your history and visit Flanders Fields. This historic site is home to the Flanders Field Cemetery and Memorial and is located just on the outskirts of Waregem itself, making it easy to access. Another very popular attraction are the iconic Broel Towers which are located in the nearby city of Korttijk (only a 25 minute drive away). The historic towers and bridge are over 600 years old and there is also the opportunity to view this landmark from a boat if you wish!
Other attractions include the Hippo War Museum, ‘T Gaverhopke and St Elisabeth House. Alternatively, if racegoers crave more sport after races, they have the option to visit Zulte Waregem’s football stadium (Regenboogstadion), however your unlikely to catch them play in August!
Recommended hotels - Vakantieverblijf De Pupiter, Hotel Ambassade, Blue Woods Hotel, De Jager and D’Hulhaege.
Arguably the biggest date on the Crystal Cup fixture list is Pardubice, located in the Czech Republic, boasting the largest prize fund of €178,000.
The race known as the Velka Pardubicka is run over a distance of 4m 2 ½ f and is considered to be one of the biggest tests in international racing. Consisting of over 31 obstacles on various different grounds, it is clear to see why this is one of the most feared, yet renowned races of the year.
Pardubice itself has its own airport and is located just 1 minute from the racecourse! However most people prefer to fly into Prague as it gives them the opportunity to see more of the Czech Republic. If flying into Prague, racegoers have the option to travel via car or bus which takes just over 2 hours. The train however is far quicker as there is a direct link between the two, making sure racegoers can reach the racecourse or nearby hotels in less than an hour.
Racegoers usually begin their sightseeing in Prague, however, Pardubice is not short of things to do! Pardubice is known for its stunning buildings including Zelena Brana, Pardubice Townhall and Pardubice Castle. All located within a short distance of each other, these attractions can easily be visited within the space of a few hours, which makes it ideal for racegoers who are only visiting for a short period. Other attractions include Cez Arena and Agrofert Park.
Recommended hotels - Courtyard by Marriott Prague City and Prague Marriott Hotel.
We currently offer packages for Pardubice which can be found here: https://www.racingbreaks.com/events/velka-pardubicka#2355