True love overcomes any obstacles. At least the current owners of Chuchle Arena Prague, Mr. and Mrs. Vítek, seem to think so, because they have already invested 277 million crowns in partial reconstructions of the 50-hectare plot of land. Without expecting any returns. They can only hope that the racecourse will be able to support its operation. But thanks to the investments, racehorses, jockeys and visitors can finally feel like in the 21st century here.
The history of the racecourse in Chuchle dates back to 1906. The only time when majestic animals with jockeys on their backs did not race here was the First World War. The premises have never undergone any major reconstruction. Until now. Thanks to the investments of the entrepreneur Radovan Vítek, guests now feel that they are in a nice and modern environment.
"Starting in the winter of 2018, that is immediately after the entry of new owners, construction and other work began. Their current volume amounts to a total of 277 million crowns for this relatively short period, "
says Martin Pecka, director of the Chuchle Arena Prague, and continues:
"When choosing out suppliers, we place great emphasis on them being local, thus supporting Czech companies."
A big step was the construction of a completely new parkour area in the middle of the oval of the racetrack.
"We were looking for a modern solution that would not affect the racing operation and that would appropriately complement it instead. The current total investment in this section has reached CZK 110 million. The newly built infrastructure won‘t be used only for parkour, but also for other events,"
Martin Pecka clarifies, stating that the couple does not expect any return, they simply love horse racing.
Everything is up to standard
Many visitors welcome the possibility of accommodation directly at the racecourse. The owners took into account today's hotel standards and turned the previous communist barracks into a luxurious four-star hotel. After the reconstruction of the original accommodation area, which was in a completely desolate condition, the hotel rooms were completed during this winter. The design rooms are now used not only as an accomodation for the riders, but for anyone who wants to stay overnight in this unique place. The stables and facilities for competitors, such as jockeys' changing rooms and racing weight station, also underwent a reconstruction. The area of the small betting hall and the restaurant had been renovated already in 2018. For the 2019 season, new lounges on the fifth floor and the Derby Club Prague area have been prepared for visitors to the races.
A shark in the herd
There can be no doubt that sport is tightly connected to culture in all its possible forms. That is why the visitors to Chuchle can now admire a statue of a six-ton steel shark, which is located behind the show jumping racetrack. And they will probably wonder why the majestic animal towering above them is a shark, not a horse.
"We have plenty of horses already, we wanted something different. It is a symbol of strength and courage, "
The shark, seven meters long and weighing six tons, is the work of sculptor Michal Gabriel. It was created in 2017 and exhibited abroad. The artist lent it to Chuchle for two years. He was drawn to sharks not only for their grandeur, but also because he found their form uniquely inspiring. A shark‘s body is precisely shaped for hunting; after all, it took million years of evolution for this beautiful predator of the sea to develop into today's iconic form. The statue doesn‘t represent a specific species of shark, but a combination of some of the most prominent representatives of this cartilaginous fish. Its body is floating above the ground, standing on three spots on the fins.
The work was created using a technique that combines the methods of traditional and digital sculpture. Originally modeled in clay, the shape of the shark's body was transferred to virtual space using a 3D scanner. The scanned model was then dimensioned on a computer and divided into about 700 layers. This process is inspired by 3D printing, which also works with layers placed precisely on top of each other. Unlike 3D printing, however, this technique doesn‘t attempt to merge the individual layers – on the contrary, they form a distinctive structure that underlines the artistic expression and tone of the steel sculpture.
The individual layers are made of centimeter-thick stainless steel plates cut into contour line shapes by laser. The cut edges of the individual plates thus form a substantial part of the surface of the final sculpture and, thanks to their tilt, they rhythmize its surface.