UKRAINE AND HORSE RACING

Prior to the despicable Russian invasion of the sovereign country of Ukraine, most of what I knew about Ukraine I learned chatting with a dentist, whose family immigrated to the United States from Ukraine when she was a child.  Ironically, her partner in her dental practice also came to the United States as a child, from Russia.

Now, with the news filled with reports of atrocities committed by the Russian military against outmanned and outgunned Ukrainian armed forces and innocent civilians, I know a lot more about the country, and especially about the inner strength and courage of Ukrainians.  Like most other people watching from afar, we want to help thwart the Russian incursion, but don’t have a way to do so, other than to show our disdain in symbolic ways…as did some horse racing connections in England.

An article in the Racing Post said: “Support for Ukraine following the Country’s invasion by Russia has prompted protests in all corners of the world and on Monday [February 28, 2022] it reached the racecourse, with a horse carrying silks featuring the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag.”  The John Berry-trained Turn of Phrase sported the colors when she finished fourth, in a dead heat, at Wolverhampton on Monday.  The mare is co-owned by Berry and, I am not making this up, the Sisters of Mercy. Bravo to both! (Click here to access the Racing Post article.)

The closest I could come to finding out about horse racing in Ukraine was an article in The Odessa Journal on May 21, 2021, titled “Odessa Hippodrome Opened the Racing Season.”  It read in part: “The racing season 2021 started at the Odessa Hippodrome last weekend.  The event is a traditional holiday, both for horse-riding enthusiasts and for residents of Odessa, who decided to bring their children to see the horses.”  The “horse-riding” language is misleading in that the Hippodrome offers harness racing. 

The director of the Hippodrome, Konstantin Savchits, was quoted In the article as follows: “Horse breeding has been going through hard times in Ukraine for many years.  For this we hold such events to popularize equestrian sports.  We are trying to involve the inhabitants of Odessa.  After all, many do not even know that we have a hippodrome with a very colorful history.”  (Click here to access the Odessa Journal article in English.)

Horse Racing Business is not a place where one normally reads non-horse racing opinion.  This time is an exception.  No words are adequate in condemning the brutality inflicted on citizens of a sovereign country by a nuclear power in the hands of a deranged individual.  Ukrainians are demonstrating resolve and bravery rarely seen…and the civilized world, including many everyday Russians, are rooting for the underdog David to drive out the evil Goliath.

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