Russian blood became popular again for
shorter periods.
    Harness racing lived a good life during
the Soviet period (1917 to 1991). The
big government-controlled state studs
produced enough horses to keep a number
of tracks running. The horses were
distributed in even numbers to the
tracks, where the trainers shared the
horses. When I visited the Moscow
Hippodrome in 1990 all 17 trainers on
the track each trained 21 horses, and
they received a new horse every time
one was turned out.
    When the Soviet Union fell, the
market was opened and private money
appeared. In Scandinavia we felt an
impact, which made us very optimistic
for Russian harness racing. New owners
came abroad to buy horses, and several
parts of the old union showed interest
in building and rebuilding tracks.
    But the exploding development
which we expected did not occur.
Instead we heard less and less about
the Russian racing scene, and the
famous international trot “The Peace
Prize” which was held in Moscow every
summer along with a drivers’ competition, disappeared along with the
Soviet Union.
    The Baltic countries however, especially Estonia, kept harness racing alive,and the track in the Estonian capital
Tallinn is owned by a majority of Swedes
these days. New breeding farms have
been built in the country, and a number
of young Swedish trotters are raised in
    A couple of years ago a new track
was constructed in the Russian province
Tatarstan. The Kazan Racetrack was built
with aid from French authorities, and
opened in 2005. The Russian president,
Vladimir Putin, was present at the first
race meet.
    The year after the World Cup Trot
Final was performed in Kazan, mostly
thanks to the Frenchmen, most people
thought Russian harness racing was facing

a new golden period, but unfortunately
that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It’s a pity, because the world of harness
racing needs a country like Russia with
related countries, having so much tradition,
so many horses and a developing
domestic economy.
    This was all this time. Please do not
hesitate to comment on my articles. My
e-mail address is and
as usual I would be more than happy to
receive reaction from North American
harness racing fans.
Till next time,
Klaus Koch

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