Padua

Racecourse Le Padovanelle

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Padua is the cradle of trotting races. On 13th August 1808, a placard under the heading "Kingdom of Italy" established the official regulations for the first trotting races, scheduled for the coming days of 21st and 22nd August; this first time, the term "Padovanelli" was used, but was subsequently corrected to "Padovanelle" to relate to the modern sulkies. These famous sulkies weighed about 250/300 Kg (550/650 lbs) and were entirely constructed in wood, inlaid by hand by expert artisans. The trotting races took place in the Prato della Valle, at that time, the "Grande piazza Vittorio Emanuele" on the circuit of 660 metres (600 yards) and were characterised by heats made up of 3 or 4 horses; the next day, the winners of these heats would dispute the "decisive race" which, as its name implies, decreed the champion. At the end of the century, the need was felt to have a track with different requisites and so the municipal commission decided for the suspension of the races in the Prato while waiting for a financial contribution, on the part of the people of the city or other private units, for the construction of a suitable area. The Senator Vincenzo Stefano Breda took up the invitation and the cause and decided to have a new structure built in the hamlet he was fond of, "Ponte di Brenta". The Racecourse was officially opened on 1st May 1901 and that day guaranteed the city the title of the ITALIAN CAPITAL CITY OF TROTTING. The activity continued for over half a century until, due to the war and to a devastating whirlwind in 1940, the structure began to fall into decline and so in need of repair; here, another horse racing enthusiast, Ivone Grassetto, "Nani" for his friends, came to the rescue. An entrepreneur of unquestioned fame and exponent of national trotting races, he built an enlarged, modern and completely renewed structure, and added to the already existing name, that of "Padovanelle", in order to keep it, up to today, as also representing the society which manages it. The new racecourse was officially opened on 1st May 1962 and, since then, its activity, ably managed by the descendants of Ivone Grassetto, means that the memory of the two personalities who contributed to spreading its fame, is forever kept alive. Today, the Racecourse of Padua is one of the best horse-racing structures in Europe.