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Kincsem Park has regained its former luster

“We are a proud Hungarian equestrian nation”

Text: Márton Mészáros Navarrai | Photo: Szebáld Szakál, Gábor Kormány |  12:26 September 5, 2023

Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky presented the trophy of the Kincsem Stakes at the Kincsem+ TUTI International Horse and Greyhound Racing Festival and Food Truck Show in Kincsem Park, Budapest on Saturday, 2 September. On the day of flat races (gallop), which was attended by several military attachés as well, the guests were given an insight into not only equestrian sports but also the life of the Hungarian Defence Forces.

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Kincsem Park, the number one venue of Hungarian horse racing sport in Budapest, was filled with those arriving for a social event on Saturday, the day of flat races. The combat vehicles of the Hungarian Defence Forces on display awaited the fans of horse racing in the area of the recently renovated legendary racecourse that had been opened in 1925 in the 10th district of Budapest, so they had the opportunity to take a close look at all the recently procured, cutting-edge vehicle types of the armed forces. The military units represented themselves with the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank, the Gidrán MRAP-/M-ATV combat vehicle, the PzH 2000HU self-propelled howitzer and the KF41 configuration of the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle.

Following the start of the first race, Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also saw the combat vehicles on display and went to visit the military recruitment tent, where he received a report from the recruiters on the spot.

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Afterwards, on the “MoD Terrace” of Kincsem Park, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky received the high-ranking guests of the defence portfolio: members of the government, military attachés of foreign states, several ambassadors of Hungary, as well as the leaders of the Hungarian Defence Forces. Also present at the event were members of government, military attachés delegated to Hungary and the leaders of the Hungarian Defence Forces. Among the prominent guests were General Dr. Gábor Böröndi, Chief of the HDF General Staff, Dr. István Nagy, Minister of Agriculture and Georg von Habsburg, Hungary’s ambassador accredited to Paris, the grandson of the last Austro-Hungarian emperor.

Before his retirement announced late last year, the absolute star of the Saturday race day, Italian jockey Frankie Dettori, 52, had his first and last starts in the saddle in Hungary, who had six rides on the Kőbánya racecourse. One of the all-time top jockeys and the most successful one these days was first riding Silent Film, a favorite horse and won the Imperial Stakes, a 1600-meter race worth HUF 8 million, in which it overtook its great rival, Sceptic ridden by Hungarian jockey Rebeka Gönczi. Two races later, Dettori could be over the moon again, as he finished first on the most prestigious flat race of the day, winning the Kincsem Stakes as well in the saddle of Splendent. Both horses are owned by James Hay and his wife, who are known as legendary figures of horse racing sport and also witnessed the success of their horses on the Saturday race day.

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Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky presented the trophy of Kincsem Stakes – named after the miracle mare of 19th-century Hungarian equestrian sport and horse breeding – to Dettori, who lives in the United Kingdom and had become a superstar overnight at the Ascot Derby in 1996. In 2001, Dettori was awarded an honorary MBE by the late British Queen Elizabeth II. Dettori is no stranger to Hungarian horses, as he was riding Overdose – the bay stallion that perished in 2015 – during his last race in Rome, on 13 November 2011.

One interesting feature of Kincsem Stakes, a top event of the international race, is that no English thoroughbred has won a race in Hungary since 1827. “We are a proud Hungarian equestrian nation”, said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, adding that after the World Athletics Championships that ended last week, the international horse and greyhound racing festival has proven it again that our country is a worthy home to sports, and the equestrian sporting event has put Hungary back on the international map of equestrian sports. “This is a great success for Hungarians, and for the Hungarian horse racing sport the roots of which go back to István Széchenyi, as it has now taken a big step towards featuring in the international global arena again”, noted the minister of defence.

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After the races, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky and Ádám Szotyori Nagy, the newly elected managing director of the Kincsem National Horse Racing and Equestrian Strategy Ltd laid a wreath in the company of Dettori, the celebrated jockey at the statue of the eponym of Kincsem Park erected in front of the main entrance.

The Hungarian Defence Forces were preparing for the event not only by organizing a spectacular static and interactive display of combat vehicles that attracted a lot of visitors and providing extensive information: in addition, the Count Ferenc Nádasdy Hussar Battalion of the HDF “vitéz Sándor Szurmay” Budapest Garrison Brigade (BGB) thrilled the audience with a hussar show rich in dynamic visual elements, and the anthems after the races were played by the Budapest Garrison Band of the HDF BGB 32nd Guard Regiment. Furthermore, the visitors could see a fly-past of military helicopters as well.

On Friday, the greyhounds took the stage in the three-day event, while the focus was on trotters on Sunday, the day when the most prestigious harness races, the József Marschall Memorial Stakes and the Hungaria Stakes were held in Kincsem Park. Apart from the greyhound and horse racing programs, the audience at the Kőbánya venue had a chance to get acquainted with the pasta- and pizza-based cuisine of Italy, the guest country of the year 2023.