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Poland. 80 years to the racecourse “Sluzhevets”
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05.05.2019

On May 5, 2019, the Polish Post issued a postage stamp in honor of the 80th anniversary of the racecourse “Sluzhevets” in Warsaw.

On a postage stamp of 3.30 zl, we see a dynamic moment of horse racing, when horses in a dense group fly along the grass path of the hippodrome.
The author of the stamp is Agnieszka Sancewicz, for the stamp was used a photograph of Dominik Czubak.

Stamps were issued in small sheets of 3 x 3 stamps with artistically decorated fields. The first day cover and a special postmark were also prepared by Polish Post. The presentation of the postage stamp took place at the Sluzhevets racetrack.

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In March 1841, the Horse Racing and Livestock Exhibition Society was founded in the Polish Kingdom. It is the institution that set itself the goal of organizing horse racing and supporting the breeding of thoroughbred horses. The first races were held in June of the same year. The place, which then seemed to be the most appropriate for the needs of this type of sport, was the Mokotów Field (near the present site of the Union of Lublin). The first capital track had a length of about one kilometer.

Horse racing, in which the whole Warsaw found excitement, was suspended with the outbreak of the January Uprising (1863-1864). However, neither this break, nor repression and seizure of autonomy of the Polish Kingdom did not contributed to the decline in horse racing popularity. What is more, the Polish horses each year were getting better.

The Pole Mokotowskie were still the centre for struggles of the horses and their riders until 1938. The fact that it is not exactly a good place for this type of sports games was known long time ago, but only in the 20s the need to build a track in another place become a subject of public discussion. Horse racing popularity was steadily growing, and thus the need to move to a bigger and permanent headquarters became urgent. The search for a suitable site for the Warsaw horse races last many years. Various locations were take into account such as the area in Okęcie, however, Służewiec proved to be a winning proposition. 

The first important date in the history of Służewiec Racetrack was 1926, when the Society for the Encouragement of the Horse Breeding in Poland bought 150 ha of land in Służewiec for future racing complex facilities.

Hr. Zygmunt Plater-Zyberk, main architect of “Służewiec” visited all Europe’s top racetracks before he engaged with designing. As a result, on the one hand, errors in the design phase were avoided, and on the other hand, the latest technology was used. Taking into account all the land conditions, the main track (2,300 m) was situated from north to south, and the training track from east to west (about 30 ha). It should be noted that the main track was built so that the water does not have the right to collect on it. Its shape (bends) was a perfect setting for pure “sports”, or thoroughbred horses. There were planned three stands to be built for guests with different budget. 

The entire complex had many interesting architectural solutions, for example the tunnel between the stables and paddock area. The track sprinkling system was also designed. If we add housing for employees, stores (including the grain one of 550 tons), stables for over 800 horses, wells, large parking area, water tower, it’s probably not surprising that this bold project was called the building of “Horse-Racing Town” already during the construction stage. It should also be remembered that the Racetrack in Służewiec was the largest structure in Europe in those years.

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The grand opening of the old hippodrome at the new location took place on June 3, 1939. Unfortunately, the race season of 1939 did not last long. With the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, the World War II began. The first post-war high-grade race season on the Sluzhevets racetrack took place in 1946.

Now Warsaw has an excellent horse racing track to the south of the city and you'll find meetings taking place most weekends between the spring and autumn. Horse racing on Sluzhevets has long acquired international status.

Sources: www.poczta-polska.pl, www.torsluzewiec.pl, 


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