The Butmir Hippodrome: A 130-Year-Old Horse Racing Tradition Returns

Photo: Dženisa Joldić

After 12 years, horse races returned to the Butmir Hippodrome, thanks to the initiative of passionate young equestrian enthusiasts. This event rekindled hope that the sport might once again become a major attraction in Sarajevo as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, continuing a 130-year-old tradition.

Across four equestrian races – Imperia, the Ahmed Begzadić Memorial Race, Butmir’s Gallop, and the Ilidža Municipality Race – the horses Lenkoran 350, Abby’s Wedding, Ferrari Twister, and Aliso emerged triumphant.

“Every race today was exciting because the fastest horses and most skilled jockeys competed for glory and prestigious prizes. I’d like to highlight the main race, the Ilidža Municipality Race, which concluded this spectacular hours’ long sporting event with the grand prize of 10,000 KM being claimed by Aliso,” said Riad Gojak, a member of the Butmir’s Gallop Equestrian Club.

After 12 years, horse races returned to the Butmir Hippodrome (photo: Dženisa Joldić)

The opening race, Imperia, covering 1,200 meters, featured Arabian horses and was won by the colt Lenkoran 350. Meanwhile, the Ilidža Municipality Race, which covered 2,000 meters, showcased the most well-bred horses in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the Aliso Club emerging as the victor.

The equestrian races and accompanying events attracted an audience of around 1,700 people, encouraging the event’s organizers to work hard to preserve this tradition. The first equestrian races in Butmir were held in September 1893, with the sport soon becoming a major event for Sarajevo and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the races haven’t been held in Butmir since 2012, the sport is returning to the Hippodrome thanks to the Butmir’s Gallop Equestrian Club, which was founded in April this year.

Mirsad Jelašković, the president of the Butmir’s Gallop, says that as a sporting association, they work to promote equestrian sports across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“We work with young people to prepare them for various careers, improve their quality of life, promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, and offer educational opportunities,” Jelašković explains.

He emphasizes the leadership role taken by the club, which actively worked to restore the destroyed Hippodrome in Butmir. As a result of their commitment and effort, galloping races were able to return to Butmir after 12 years, marking the resumption of an equestrian tradition which existed in the Ilidža area for nearly 130 years.

Archive photos of a horse race in Butmir (photo: Archive of the Equestrian Club Butmir gallop)

“Members of our association regularly attend horse races, and for now, we have three horses and ten valuable permanent members who diligently work to train the horses and arrange the Hippodrome,” added Jelašković.

Alongside the exciting races, the club organized a diverse accompanying program for all attendees. For example, Ladies’ Day was held for female visitors, featuring a competition to select and reward the loveliest hat. Additionally, two horses were made available for recreational riding, offering visitors the chance to ride and bond with horses, experiencing the animal’s affection and unique charm.

Ladies’ Day was held for female visitors, featuring a competition to select and reward the loveliest hat (photo: Dženisa Joldić)

“In addition to excitement and fun, these races gave us the opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty and strength of horses. The event provided support to our community, attracting visitors and promoting tourism,” remarked Gojak, noting that both riders and visitors were noticeably energetic and inspired following the races.

These races, according to Gojak, constituted a deeply meaningful event.

Dženisa Joldić is a trained Balkan Diskurs correspondent from Sarajevo. She was born on June 11, 1999. At the age of 12, she published her first collection of poems, "Sunčani zagrljaj". She is currently a third-year student at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo, Department of Communication and Journalism. She likes to express herself creatively through writing and photography.

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