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The History of the Capannelle Racecourse
The first horse races in Rome took place under the government of the Papal State around 1870 outside Porta S. Giovanni. But already in 1844 Lord George Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, had organised two days of racing on the land adjacent to the current racecourse area – a place used for fox hunting. In the meantime, the Italian Jockey Club and the Steeple Chases Society were founded. In 1881, the races were regularised and the Italian programmes were brought into line with the European ones. In the same year the first Capannelle Racecourse was opened. The area was so called because of the presence of some typical huts of the Agro Romano. An unusual origin for a place that has seen the most illustrious names of the aristocracy parade, and that has been the scene of the greatest victories of glorious and legendary champions, until it became, today, the first racecourse in Italy.
In 1926, the Società di Corse in Roma inaugurated the new Capannelle Racecourse, a real jewel of technique and architecture for those years, in front of the ruins of the Acquedotto Claudio of the Villa di Lucrezia Romana, with the Colli Albani and the mountains of Abruzzo in the background. In 2005, the ‘all-weather’ track, the first Italian example of a synthetic track, was built and inaugurated on 7 October. A year later, on 9 September 2006, the lighting system built specifically for this track was switched on for the first time. The new trotting track, created inside the galloping tracks, was inaugurated on 9 April 2014.
Today, the Capannelle Hippodrome
The Capannelle racecourse, owned by Roma Capitale and considered since its foundation a real “temple” in the world of international turf, with the inclusion of trotting in its programming has become the most important structure in the national panorama of horse racing. During the year, there are only short breaks in the racing calendar (February and August) and the collateral activities are always numerous.
The Hippodrome is a confirmed venue for international music events (Rock in Roma), important sporting events (Cyclocross World Championship) and exhibitions.
The facility, located south-west of Rome in the Agro Romano and at the foot of the Colli Albani, currently covers 140 hectares. The area includes two areas for the stables, which can accommodate up to 1,000 horses, the gallop training track, which mirrors the race track, and the racecourse, which is the actual theatre of racing activities, from 2014 also for trotting.
This part of the facility, which between stands, parterres and green areas has a capacity of over 20,000 people, also includes the lawn area (equipped with fixed tables and barbecues), four grandstands, hospitality areas (Garden and “Derby Terrace”), bar and panoramic restaurant, play areas, and areas equipped for children. Twenty-five light towers, with masts between 24 and 40 metres above the ground, have been illuminating the tracks of the Capannelle racecourse since the summer of 2006.
The lighting system has 550 reflectors of two thousand watts each, and makes it possible to hold events at night, in particular gallop races on the all-weather track and trotting races. The towers have been sized to withstand prevailing winds and to avoid oscillations that could disturb the horses’ visual sensitivity to changes in light.
Over the last ten years, the racecourse has undergone major structural interventions (transformation of the all-weather sand track, lighting, timing system and construction of the trotting track) aimed at bringing the facilities up to the standards of the most celebrated international facilities.
The grandstands, located in the four hundred metres facing the finishing straight, are four:
– The restaurant grandstand (250 seats in the terrace plus 250 seats in the restaurant above) includes a covered restaurant equipped with monitors to watch the races, consult the totaliser odds and the football matches on Pay TV, free-to-air and satellite channels. A bar and the totalizator counters are located below.
– Main Grandstand (1,100 seats), with a terrace.
– Central Tribune-Pésage (600 seats) houses the Club-House, the Weight, the Authority area, the Commissioners’ Tower, the Fantini Room, the Press Room and the TV control room.
– Tribuna dell’Arrivo (486 seats), it hosts a bar-cafeteria
Trotting and Galloping tracks
There are three elliptical race tracks located in front of the grandstands:
– Two flat gallop tracks (grass and all-weather)
– One trotting track contained within the two galloping tracks
The trotting track was built in 2013 and opened on 9 April 2014. It has a length of 1,000 metres with a radius of curvature of more than 80 metres. The bottom for the realization of the track, draining and soft at the same time, is made of two layers of pozzolanic material of various sizes (25 cm. base + 10 cm. of tread and wear) from a quarry only seven kilometres from the racecourse. The track is completed by a thin layer of a mixture of pozzolanic lapillus sand and washed pozzolan sand.
The grass track reserved for galloping actually comprises three of them, depending on the distances:
– the Grande track (about 2,600 metres)
– Derby track (2,400 metres)
– straight track (1,200 metres)
The all-weather track is 2,000 metres long and is also used for training. It was built in the summer of 2005 and is the first Italian example of a synthetic track.
There are five training tracks.
– two grass tracks (2,600 and 1,800 metres)
– three sand tracks (1,400, 1,600 and 2,400 metres)
The Giardino Ospitalità and the “Terrazza Derby”, a structure designed by the famous architect Paolo Portoghesi, set up on the edge of the track in front of the Arrival Stand, are reserved for guests on Grand Prix days.
The Horse Races During The Year
The spring season is the pride and joy of the Roman racecourse. It is centred on four major events, the Premi: Parioli, Regina Elena, President of the Republic and the Italian Derby.
– The Premio Parioli (1,600 metres Gr3) and the Premio Regina Elena (1,600 metres Gr3 reserved for three-year-old females) award respectively the best male miler and the best female. They are the first two major European events for three-year-old horses and attract valuable guests and fans from all over Europe.
– The Premio Presidente della Repubblica (1,800 metres Gr2 for whole males and females aged 4 years and over) is a competition of worldwide value, also because of the value of the prize money offered. It is the flagship race of the entire spring.
– The Italian Derby (2,200 metres Gr2 ) for whole males and three-year-old females) celebrated its 136th edition in 2019. Until the early 1980s, the “Nastro Azzurro” was reserved for indigenous horses only.Other group races on the day: Premio Carlo D’Alessio (Gr3) and Premio Tudini (Gr3)
The Ippodromo di Capannelle dresses up for grand occasions this season, especially on the two days of international stature, those centred on the Lydia Tesio Prize and the Rome Prize.
– The Lydia Tesio Prize (2,000 metres Gr1 for females aged 3 years and over) is named after the ‘First Lady’ of Italian galloping, wife of the great trainer Federico and breeder of Ribot, a legendary horse of Italian horseracing. The race has become the most important end-of-season test for females in Europe.
– The Premio Roma (2,000 metres Gr1 for entire males and females aged 3 years and over): a race of international standing for over fifty years, it is the last major event on the European autumn calendar for galloping.
Other group races in the day: Ribot Prize (Gr3) – Berardelli Prize (Gr3) – Carlo and Francesco Aloisi Prize (Gr3)