San Sebastian Racecourse, Spain
Scene of the Premio on August 18th, 2002 !!
A stone's throw from Biarritz, San Sebastian is the Spanish alternative to Deauville, except even better ! In the 1920's & 1930's, the resort was the Monaco of its time with Royalty and its court parking their boats in the La Concha harbour.

Horses racing round the Clubhouse turn at San Sebastian.
Photo by Miguel Felipe

Whether it's racing, beaches, food, people, entertainment, cultural activities, you will find them all in San Sebastian all year round and especially in "Semana Grande" in the middle of August.

Semana Grande is famous for its International Fireworks contest where the whole city descends to the La Concha area to watch 20 minutes of amazing fireworks.

JockeysRoom director Nick Higgins (left) with tapas guru, Victor Rivas, at Bar Goiz Argi in San SebastianThen it's off to the old part of town, El Barrio Viejo, to consume the best tapas Spain can offer. We recommend 2 great tapas bars, Jose Mari & Bar Goiz-Argi, which can be found on calle Fermin Calbeton, number 5.

As a result of this very article, the leading turf travel company, HorseRacingAbroad took a party of 30 British racing fans to the racetrack in April 2002 and they all had a marvellous time. They are due back in April 2005.

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For hotels, Nick Higgins, JockeysRoom President, recommends the Hotel Costa-Vasca, located on the other side of the bay.
It is quiet, spacious, has a large pool, tennis, offers free parking, has excellent breakfasts and where you may even find yourself sharing a lift with Spain's great matadors who stay there during the bullfighting season.

The racecourse is 5 miles out of town in Lasarte-Oria next to the San Sebastian -----> Vitoria motorway.

Before racing we highly recommend you to pay a visit to the "Tapas Palace" of Lasarte, the Bar Guretxea which can be found on the main high street. In between a "zulito" (beer) or a nice bottle of Crianza red wine, you will be entertained by its very friendly owner, Julian, who will have at hand the racetrack programme so that you can study the form before going on to the track.

Another place tailor-made for racing clientele is the Pub Patrizio Web Site...where you can blend into a real racing atmoshere with boy-hood pictures of Lester Piggott, 1920's racing in Spain, the regular Saturday evening "Poules" and satelite racing via the Equidia racing channel....what more could you want ?

The track is now the focal point of Spanish racing with 279 horses stabled there in the summer of 2000 and 315 in 2002. Horses stabled here in 1999 managed to win over 400,000 in win & place prize money when they raided nearby French racetracks.
By 2003, this figure had expanded to a massive 116 races and 1.42m in France.

And if you happen to venture across the French border to a nearby French race meeting to have a flutter on the Spanish raiding horses, you would be doing well to back anything ridden by the regional expert jockey, Jose-Luis Borrego.

The atmosphere on racedays is very much a family one with paddock, grandstands and course all next to each other.

We like the racing so much that we sponsored the Premio which was won by Rahab, ridden by Ivan Borrego (see his profile).

In 2002, we again sponsored a race there and it was won by Spanish Champion, Jose-Luis Martinez on Afortunada.

Horses just after the start of a 2,200m race on a wet day at San Sebastian. 
Photo by J_A.Rodriguez

The right-handed course, built on the site of an old aerodrome, is 1 mile round and has an inner dirt course now used for training.

Races tend to be run quick from the gate and and it suits galloping front runners who can run on in the downhill straight after negotiating the very tight "Curva de Bugatti" turn.
Track records for the 1600m and 2400m are a tick over 1.36 and 2.26 .

A family atmosphere in the San Sebastian paddock.
Memphis, Argentinian jockey Juan Espinosa up, being led by Rodrigo Lopez.
Lopez was to later work for Henry Cecil where he looked after 1,000 Guineas winner, Wince

Foreign jockeys look forward to riding at San Sebastian both for the racing and for the excellent fish restaurants in the region.
Book well in advance for world famous restaurants such as Arzac, Akelarre and Arguinano in nearby Zarautz.

Jockeys to have ridden here in the last 12 years include:
Piggott, Carson, Cochrane, Reid, Munro, Quinn, Fallon, Darley, J.Quinn, Duffield, Swinburn, Hills, Ryan, Egan, Ives, Murtagh, Kinane, Gilson, Legrix, E.Saint Martin, Peslier, Doleuze, S.Soto, Corey Black and Stanley Chin (read all about how he won on his very first ride in Lasarte).

In the 1920's the great Steve Donoghue also rode here.

Horses to have raced here include:
Suances, Royal Gait, Enharmonic, Shrewd Idea, Petit Loup, Partipral, Dariyoun, Persian Ruler, Madrileno, Wavy Run, Coach, Salaam, Kashwan, King Cobra, Prince of India, Robertiya and One To Two.

International owners to have raced here include:
H.M The Queen, Sheikh Maktoum, Sir Gordon Brunton, Haras d'Etreham, J.Gispert, M.S.Vidal, F.Hinojosa, Esther Grajales & Enrique Sarasola.

In 2005, race dates will be as follows:

  • Spring Season--April 10th, 24th and May 8th and 22ndh, with the Derby meeting on June 5th.
  • Summer--July 19th, 17, 24, 31, August 7, 15, 21 and 28th and September 4th and 11th.

    The big races in August are the Premio Kutxa for fillies & mares usually on the Sunday before the Copa de Oro, which is always held on August 15th and finally, the Gobierno Vasco on the Sunday afterwards.
    The Gran Premio de San Sebastian over 14 furlongs (2,800m) is always run in September at the end of the season.

    In 2000, the filly Kantia, managed to win the 2,200m Kutxa and the 1,600m Gobierno Vasco in the space of a week !

    Click here to see Race Entries & Conditions

    See San Sebastian's Racing Diary

    See San Sebastian's Results

    Course Tel: 00 34 943 37 16 90

    Course Fax: 00 34 943 37 32 40

  • Next: La Zarzuela Racecourse, Madrid


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