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Opportunity to upgrade the Hippodrome the pandemic

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Pandemic opportunity to upgrade the Hippodrome

“Bloody” the cuts after the haircut that reached € 6,500,000

Interview of George Chatziminas, General Manager of the Nicosia Horse Racing Club in Insider magazine .

Pandemic opportunity to upgrade the Hippodrome

Globally, horse races brought together all walks of life, from the lowest to the highest, such as royal families. The Nicosia Horse Racing Club did not escape from this rule either. With the help of the General Manager of the Club, George Hatziminas, we tried to decode it, to get to know its history, the organization's effort to cope with the haircut and the pandemic, but also its effort to find its place in the sport.

The purpose of the Nicosia Horse Racing Club is the organization and conduct of horse racing meetings, the development and promotion of the sport of horse racing and the encouragement of the production of racehorses in Cyprus.

The Club is a non-profit organization and if there are surpluses they are reinvested in the sport. In addition, when the finances of the Industry allow it, donations are given to charitable institutions. Indicatively it is mentioned that in 1974 – 1975 the Club allocated a total amount of 267,000 pounds for the refugees, a significant amount for that time.


According to Mr. Hatziminas, the most important problem faced by the Nicosia Horse Racing Club was the economic crisis that hit the place and consequently the sport. Turnover per race meeting decreased from € 973,430 in 2009 to € 330,765 in 2020. Due to the economic crisis a large number of horse owners and horse breeders left the sport and the number of horses born per year decreased from 691 in 2006 to 300 in 2020. during this period she used most of the money in her reserve, that is, what was left after the haircut to cover the losses incurred. He also made drastic cuts by all members of the Equestrian Industry. That is, it cut off significant amounts of cash prizes and bonuses, as well as reduced the supply of Horse Racing Representatives. The monthly, weekly and staff of horse racing meetings were reduced as well as there was a significant reduction in staff salaries. Operating expenses were also significantly reduced. All the annual savings made amount to approximately € 6,500,000. “Unfortunately we are all experiencing the results of the difficulties and limitations of the Pandemic that resulted in the Club to make a loss of € 1,300,000 in 2020 and a significant loss of 2021 is expected and again the Club was forced to impose with the resumption of horse racing “In February 2021, cuts in cash prizes and the suspension of the payment of some bonuses”, Mr. Hatziminas underlined.


Despite the losses of 2020, the Club did not impose any cuts in 2020 as other European countries have done. “We hope that the cuts imposed in 2021 will be for a short time” adds Mr. Hatziminas and adds: “The Club has introduced other measures to address the difficulties brought by the economic crisis and the pandemic but the road is still to be long and difficult. We have a lot to do but with the stabilization of our economy we have the opportunity to implement programs to upgrade the Hippodrome and further improve its image so that owners and horse breeders return as well as to attract more Philippians. We believe that this is the path that must be followed for the development of the equestrian industry “.


Horse racing in Cyprus has been conducted since ancient times, but with the arrival of the British in Cyprus in 1878, which was their favorite sport, horse racing spread as a sport among the inhabitants of Cyprus, laying the foundations for the formation of the sport in its current form.

The first horse races were organized in Larnaca in 1879 and attracted a large number of spectators. The horse racing venue was located on the site of what is now Larnaca International Airport. The passage of the Philippians to the arena of the games was done by boats and carriages, which followed a narrow coastal alley.

The following year, in 1880, the first horse races were held in Limassol, which, despite the sloppiness in the manner and place, were also successful. Then came Nicosia, in 1881.

In 1880 horse races were also held in Paphos on the birthday of Queen Victoria of England. Horse races were also held in Trikomo and later in Vatili.

The success of the horse races and the interest shown by the public for them helped to establish this institution and from 1882 the regular events with regulations and prizes began.

The first official written data on horse racing can be found in the Racecourse Calendar of 1912 with references to horse racing in the above cities as well as later in Famagusta.

It should be noted that the organizers of the races were amateur individuals who loved the sport of racing and who later founded Horse Racing Clubs.

The Members of the Clubs offered their services on a non-profit basis and created the bases for the current Equestrian Industry. Until today, the Members of the Nicosia Horse Racing Club as well as the Cyprus Horse Racing Authority offer their services at the Administrative level on a non-profit basis.

With the passage of time and the emergence of various difficulties such as the two World Wars, financial difficulties, and the displacement of the horse races from the area where the horse races were held, led to the termination of the operation of the Horse Racing Clubs, outside the White Horse Racing Club.

The first minutes that exist regarding the meetings of the Committee of the Club and the General Assembly of the Members of the Nicosia Horse Racing Club are dated December 11, 1936 which took place at the offices of EFKAF in Nicosia. The offices still exist today opposite the Cyprus Museum and have even been recently renovated.

Other evidence suggests that horse races have been held in Nicosia since 1912, but were interrupted during World War II.

Until 1936 the horse racing meetings were held in a rented area near the then railway station between Neapoleos and Trachonas but due to the development of the area the rent of the area increased so it is not profitable to continue the horse races in this area because meetings were sometimes organized , Spring and Autumn. The result was to move the area where the races took place to the current location, ie to Agios Dometios where the rent was lower.

This space was first rented in 1936 by the Archdiocese of Cyprus and then in 1939 it was purchased with a loan secured by personal guarantees of the Members of the Club Committee.

The area of today's Hippodrome with an area of about 150 stairs is divided into two. Most of them house the stadiums, the stands and part of the stables area and a smaller part houses the stables and the veterinary clinic and the cafe. These two areas are separated by a narrow strip of land rented by the state and is the old railway line.

Purebred horses from Cyprus competed in Cyprus, but also imported, mainly from Britain.

The Cypriot horse was found 80 years ago in the forested areas of Akamas. He was small, husky, and his name was DIMITO. Apart from housework in some villages of Cyprus, the horse was also used for horse racing at festivals.

You do not find many countries in the world where there are local horses that regularly compete in horse racing and make up 50% of the horse population.

From the Cyprus Agricultural Journal of 1924 we are informed that horse races were planned at the Athens Hippodrome especially for the participation of the Cypriot horses. Due to the success of the Cypriot horses, there was interest in buying Cypriot horses from Greeks, which resulted in an increase in their purchase price in CYP100.

In 1924 – 1925 it also appears that horse racing meetings were held in Nicosia on November 1, 8 and 15, 1924 and on April 15, 21, 23 and 25, 1925.

In Limassol on November 30 and December 7, 1924 and on March 25 and April 5, 19, 20, 1925.

In Nicosia, after the end of the regular race meeting, a race with obstacles was held, which was of particular interest to the Filipinos.

The meetings took the form of a popular festival and consolidated the interest of the Cypriots in horse racing.

The sizes of the current Equestrian Industry and their evolution can be ascertained from the comparison of the annual published accounts of the Nicosia Horse Racing Club.

From the accounts of 1944 it seems that the main income of the Hippodrome came from the entrance fee to the Hippodrome and the sale of the Horse Racing Sweepstake which amounted to CYP2,143 and CYP2,575 respectively while the income from the bet amounted to CYP655 only.

The total income of the Club in 1944 amounted to 5,624 pounds.

Today, as Mr. Hatziminas told us, the entrance to the Hippodrome is free and the Sweepstake Lottery has been abolished. The income of the Hippodrome is almost exclusively from the bet and in 2019 amounted to approximately € 13,000,000.

“Over the last 70 years, thanks to a number of well-aimed initiatives and commendable actions of private individuals, mainly Cypriots, the sport of horse racing has developed in the place at satisfactory levels, and a completely valuable equestrian industry has been created, which offers significant indirect and direct economic benefits. and contributes to the maintenance and extreme development of a sport that offers pleasure and entertainment to thousands of Filipinos throughout the island. “The prevailing view of these thousands of Filipinos is that not only should the current regime be maintained, but also that it be helped, as far as possible, to develop further in order to continue its diverse offer,” he concluded.


Horse Racing Meetings and Horse Racing Betting

Approximately 102 horse races are held each year. The number of races per meeting is around 8-9 and in exceptional cases 7 races are held.

The number of horse races is reduced from previous years due to the reduction in the number of horses.

The average turnover per race meeting is around € 330,000.

Number of people employed in the Equestrian Industry

The Equestrian Industry employs hundreds of people, such as coaches, riders, horsemen, veterinarians, horseshoes, food suppliers, staff of the Nicosia Horse Racing Club and the Cyprus Horse Racing Authority, representatives of the Equestrian Industry. If the above individuals are counted, they significantly exceed the number of 3000 families.

Tax revenues of the State and the Municipality of Agios Dometios

The Nicosia Horse Racing Club is a tax source of revenue for the Government, which in 2019 was € 2,000,000 and which, after the relevant law was passed in 1973, amounted to a total of € 155,000,000. Also a tax source of income for the Municipality of Agios Dometios, which in 2019 was € 330,000 and which, after the relevant law was passed in 1982, amounted to € 19,000,000.

Purchase or production of a racehorse

The existence, as in all countries, of a successful Equestrian Industry is based mainly on the domestic production of horses. Without local horse producers who promote the sport of horse racing and without the interest of Filipinos to become horse owners, the Equestrian Industry of a country such as Cyprus cannot survive. It is stated that a two-year-old horse costs about € 8,000- € 10,000. Older horses but participating in horse racing can be purchased at lower prices. However, horses are sold for up to € 30,000. Recently, a horse has been sold for this amount. An owner, to stable his horse at the Hippodrome, needs to pay about € 500 per month as training, breeding and feeding costs for his horse. The cash prizes for the winning horses average around € 5,000 for each race, while there are classic races where the cash prizes are much higher such as e.g. the Cyprus Derby which amounts to approximately € 34,000. The horses that will finish in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place are also rewarded with similar cash prizes.

Today there are 928 horses under training, 40 stallions, 900 frogs, 1100 young horses up to 3 years old and 1400 horses 4 years old and older, while in 2020 about 300 horses were born.

Source: www.philenews.com

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