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Horsing around in the snow

Being seen at the White Turf event is as important as taking part in the races

The horse racing season is underway in St Moritz - a place sporting fans would least expect to host such an event at this time of year. But the "White Turf" event, as the name suggests, puts thoroughbreds to the test in the snow.

The races are held over the first three Sundays in February on the frozen lake at the foot of the Engadine resort. The competition began nearly 100 years ago when a few intrepid souls wondered what it would be like to be pulled behind a horse on skis.

"Skikjöring" (the name is Norwegian and roughly translates as "ride on a rope") proved to be a huge success and is still one of the most popular races on the White Turf calendar.

Flat race and trotting competitions were soon included and, with the arrival of wealthy sponsors in recent years, the event now draws top race horses from around the world.

A "nostalgia" parade is held before the main race each Sunday, when traditional Engadine sleighs, old trotting sulkies and skikjöring horses pulling two skiers in tandem make their way across the lake.

About 25,000 spectators attend the races each year. White Turf is also high on the agenda of the jet set, whose members find the stunning winter landscape a perfect place to pose for the paparazzi.

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