One of the iconic places of horse racing in the Czech Republic, the history of which dates back to 1906, has undergone major changes in recent years. The racing arena has got a new coat - its name and logo have changed. Mr. and Mrs. Radovan and Marie Vítek, who own the Chuchle Arena Prague, have decided to bring culture and art to the complex as well. Last year in June, a steel statue of a shark, made by the well-known Czech artist and academic sculptor Michal Gabriel, was unveiled.
The racing arena has been owned by Radovan Vítek, the second richest Czech, for three years now. He bought the racetrack in 2017 as a Christmas present for his wife Marie.
"In Velká Chuchle, the last three years have been in the spirit of radical changes in all aspects, not only in regard to construction and renovation. After taking over the complex, we found out that the situation is, unfortunately, very poor and in many cases even disastrous. The stables, but also the grandstand itself were in a state of emergency. The training areas were not satisfactory either. For that reason, the overall modernization of the complex is at the same time the most fundamental change,"
Last year, Velká Chuchle became Chuchle Arena Prague and a new logo was introduced. It features a horse's head and a reference to the establishment of the racetrack in 1906. The new visual style will gradually be reflected not only in the building materials used for the racecourse but in the whole area itself. The color blue is typical for equestrian sports. It is a royal color and horses are still strongly connected with aristocratic families. The color gold adds a final touch of elegance.
During the last two years, Chuchle Arena Prague has undergone huge changes in the outdoor areas, as well as in the interiors. The biggest investment was the construction of a modern showjumping area, which serves competitors on a national as well as international level. Locker rooms for jockeys, the weighing room, and sports stables were repaired next.
New lounges for race visitors were prepared for last season. During the winter of 2019, the hotel rooms were completed after the reconstruction of the original accommodation part of the complex. The new design rooms now serve the riders, but also those who want to experience unusual accommodation. In addition, stables and facilities for competitors, such as locker rooms for jockeys and racing scales, were reconstructed.
"The main restaurant and public toilets were repaired, the offer of refreshments available during races was expanded, and a children's park with many attractions, including pony rides for small children, was built. In record time, we managed to build modern design hotel rooms in the main grandstand instead of the former hostel for the socially disadvantaged,"
Art is undoubtedly an important part of the sports and social life in the area. Chuchle Arena Prague aims to constantly surprise and enrich its visitors. Recently, it's been decorated with a statue of a steel shark, which is supposed to be a symbol of strength and courage.
This year has provided the arena with a busy racing schedule, too. In the first half of the season, 6 racing days and 5 showjumping events took place. These occurred primarily in the summer part of the season.
"We've hosted a number of top-class showjumping events. Out of the most interesting ones, for example, the Czech Championship for Children and Juniors, or Czech Jumping Cup are worth mentioning. And the CSIO3* Prague Cup, organized together with the Czech Equestrian Team, was definitely the icing on the cake. I'm glad that Velká Chuchle is alive again! Our schedule was truly busy this year. The visitors are returning to us, they like us, support us, and that's what makes me the happiest. We've received so many beautiful and positive reactions not only from our visitors but also from horse owners and jockeys. It motivates us and the whole team in Chuchle to work really hard,"
However, the absolute peak of the racing season came in September, when the Czech Derby took place. It was the 100th anniversary of this race at the Chuchle Arena racecourse.
Does your child want to ride a horse, but hasn't had a chance to try yet? Chuchle Arena Prague has opened the Equestrian Academy, through which it offers individual lessons adapted to experience and age. Getting the horse ready for riding and after-ride care under the supervision of an instructor are also included in the curriculum.
After 3 years of acting as the managing director, Martin Pecka says goodbye to the racecourse in Velká Chuchle. Pecka is leaving the position due to personal reasons and in agreement with the owners. His successor has not been named yet.