Sanlucar de Barrameda, in Cadiz province has beautiful beaches and is a famous sherry town. It is also known for its horse racing, a fantastic sporting spectacle and one of Europe’s oldest equestrian contests dating back to 1845. Popular tradition has it that the origins of the horse racing go back to the informal competitions that took place between fishmongers, to see who could get to the fish market first. Another theory is that people raced donkeys along the banks for fun and eventually upgraded to horses. What is known is that a horse racing society was established in Sanlucar in 1845, creating a tradition that would become a part of the city’s cultural fabric. The race is organized by the Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

The races take place along a 1,800m stretch of beach at the mouth of the Río Guadalquivir during the month of August, in the evening when the sun goes down. This is a thrilling spectacle where real racehorses thunder across the sand watched by a large noisy crowd of spectators separated from the horses only by orange mesh. However, there is nothing amateur about this event, horses and jockeys come from across Europe to compete. The competing horses will have established form in famous races in the UK and elsewhere. Spectator stands, bookmakers, paddocks and of course the winners enclosure line the beach. There are even children bookmaker stands where sweets rather than money is gambled.

When the races finish, there is of course a carnival in typical Andalucian style. Go and enjoy a carriage ride on the esplanade as well as a glass of chilled fino and some of the tortillitas de camarones that Sanlucar is well known for.

 The dates for the 2020 horse racing in Sanlucar de Barrameda are 13, 14, 16 August & 28, 29, 30 August 2020.

Does this sound like something you´d like to take part in this year?!