For some time I’ve been aware that there’s a horse racing track in Warsaw (Tor Służewiec [Polish language website]), but it’s poorly covered in English language tourist guides and websites. The major races and events at the track do get some press/internet coverage, but typically only in Polish.
I’ve been thinking for some time that I must visit, as I guess that over the years I’ve lived here it’s one of the few things I haven’t done. Being stuck in Warsaw during August and being at a loose end at weekends, I thought I’d check it out.
I discovered that there’s a full program of races (a typical day seems to have 9 or 10 races) every Saturday and Sunday from April to November and that it offers a good day out. The track apparently opened in 1939, although racing in Warsaw has a tradition stretching back to 1777. The track is in the south west of the city and is a huge green enclave covering an area of 138 hectares.
The atmosphere seems to be fairly relaxed and the crowds aren’t huge – there are a couple of older decript grandstands which are now closed – perhaps racing was more popular in the past. The spectators are a mix of ‘good old boys’ to families, with everyone seeming to have an enjoyable time. There were a few foreigners among the spectators, who are mainly Polish.
The racing program last Saturday was 9 flat races and one hurdles race. There are also occasional trotting races.
The race horses are mainly Polish owned, with some international entrants e.g. Ireland, UK, USA, Germany.
Prize money seems generally to be fairly modest, so I don’t expect that owners make much profit from their interest in the sport.
The track is quite well served by public transport. The main options include:
- Metro to Wilanowska and then bus (line 300) to the track.
- Tram to Wyścigi (terminus currently for lines 4 and 78) and either walk the last 1 km or catch the passing bus (line 300).
It’s also easily reached by car with ample parking.
Admission costs 5zł to Zone B, and 15zł to Zone A (the main stand). Family tickets (2 adults and 2 children) to Zone A are 25zł.
Race programs can be purchased for 4zł and in addition to information about the races include a form guide for the horses.
The betting here is a kind of Tote – pool betting. Stakes can be quite modest with the minimum being 3zł when betting on a horse to win, with a 2zł minimum on some more complicated bets. Unless you’re particularly anti-gambling, a little flutter on the horses adds to the interest of the day out.
[If you’d like to know how I fared, I made 8 different bets with a total stake of 120zł and came out ahead by 57.50zł!]
Food and Beverages
There are a number of eating options, but the offer is basically the same throughout – solid traditional Polish food, which can be washed down with soft drinks and beverages or beer. The prices are quite modest e.g. Pierś w zestawie (chicken breast with potoatoes and salad) for 18zł.
If you’d like a good day out at a Warsaw weekend, I can recommend the horse racing at Tor Służewiec.
My rating: (4.5/5)