A short history
of Austrian Trotting

A journey through the centuries

1382
First mention of trotting races in Vienna in form of a „Traber- und Wettreiterclub” under Habsburg duke Albrecht III. (1348 – 1395)

Between the centuries
In principle, it can be said that the trotting sport in Austria evolved from rural habits of farmers – located mostly in the alpine regions of the Habsburg empire – competing with their horses on snow track.

1850 – 1870
In the 50s of the 19th century a small group of aristocrats found a club for holding competitions in the „Prater” of Vienna, a green stripe in the city. The distance of the first races has been 4.270 meters, but there was only one meeting per year.
In the 60s of that century, civic people took over from the aristocrats and led the sport to the public. In 1873, the year of the world exposition in Vienna, international fields of horses from Austria, Hungary, Germany, Russia, Italy and France were competing. The record of one of the winners was 6:56 minutes over the mentioned distance. 

1874
Foundation of the „Wiener Trabrennverein“ (Vienna Trotting Association), first President: Graf Kálmán Hunyády

1875
Foundation of a Trotting Sports Club at Baden (25 kilometres south of Vienna); the idea behind this was the fact, that at these times many people – mostly wealthy – went to the Baden area during the sommer months for vacation.

1878
September 29, Opening of the Racetrack Krieau in Vienna, a pioneer work in Europe

1884
First Winner of the Austrian Derby was Andal, his father was the thoroughbred Waisenknabe

1892
Foundation of the „Trabrennverein zu Baden bei Wien“ (Baden Trotting Association), first President: Prinz Alexander zu Solms-Braunfels

1893
July 16, Opening of the Baden Racetrack with 15.000 enthusiastic visitors; till this day, one of the most beautiful tracks in the world with a breathtaking Biedermeier Ambiente

1895 – 1913
The "Championship of Europe", a heat race, was held in Baden, the most important international race of Europe at these times (K&K Monarchy Austria-Hungary). Winner of 1900 was the US bred Caid, who had an enormous impact on austrian breeding for decades.

In 1900, the Austrian owned horses Caid, Athanio, Colonel Kuser, Bonatella and Wilburn M. won most of the major races at Paris-Vincennes, so the French stopped international races until 1909, after they won the Championship of Baden three times in a row...

In 1909, World record holder filly Lou Dillon guest at Baden; at the same year, Jockey was the first french horse to win the Championship. The grey horse was later a successful stallion in Italy.

Willy (*1904) and Dora, two Austrian bred horses, were sold to the USA, Willy later was world record holder in the US and used as a stallion.

In 1909 the Austrian Stud Book had 924 pages!

Between 1912 and 1914, three grandstands at the Krieau Racetrack in Vienna have been buildt, designated as the far most beautiful in Europe.

1914 – 1918
The assassination of the Austrian hear appearant Franz Ferdinand causes World War I. 17 million people died, and also a racehorse was nothing more than a war instrument. The first big loss for austrian breeding (thoroughbred and trotting). And the end of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, also the end of the dominance in European trotting!

Between the world wars

A temporarily height again for Austrian Trotting. Horses like European record holder Heinrich and Nervus rerum were victorious at Paris-Vincennes, the latter 4th in the Prix d’Amérique of 1935 behind Muscletone, Calumet Guy and Hazleton. Hazleton himself was a two time winner of the Prix d’Amérique (1931 & 1932), driven by Austrian driving legend Otto Dieffenbacher.

1927
Heinrich (by Ernest Axtell), mentioned as the best Austrian Trotter of all times, was born. His record was 1:18,3 (1932, European Record) and his record in the Austrian Derby of 1931 (1:24,7 over 3300 metres was also a new European Derby record) held for 40 years. He was 2nd in the Prix de Belgique in Paris and bad lucked 5th in the PdA of 1933, also just beaten by a neck in the „Hunyady“ of 1931 by Walter Dear. In 1932 Heinrich finally won the Hunyady.

1928
50th anniversary of the Krieau Racetrack with a memorable duel between the US bred Guy Bacon and three time Prix d’Amérique winner Uranie. The filly won...

1939 – 1945
In 1938, Austria was extinguished by the Nazi-occupyers; from 1939 to 1945 between 50 and 70 millions people lost their lives, and the Austrian Trotting Sport was mostly destroyed. In most of the cases and especially of Heinrich and Nervus rerum, they said over here: "Horse and horseman were never seen again..."

1945
Even there have been 290 bomb fallings from January to March 1945 at the Krieau Racetrack, the association managed to organize the first racing day after the war on November 11 with 13.000 participants.

1949
First races at Baden after WW2

1953
A „Horse-Toto“ was installed, but has never been successful. It was closed down in 1966.

1960s – 1990s
The Trotting Sport and the breeding rises slowly but strong. In 1971, Austrian Driver Adi Übleis won the European Driving Championship and then headed to the World Championship in the USA. Übleis won the title in front of William Haughton (USA), Peter Wolfenden (NZ) and Canadas Hervé Filion. He was voted then Austrian Sportsman of the Year and was responsible for the rising popularity of the Trotting Sport in Austria. Horses like Florestan and Meadow Road were starting their career in Vienna at the „Hunady“, which saw international Stars like Granit, Piper Cup, Queen L., Giesolo de Lou or Opal Viking in the winning list.

In 1980, Electronic Totalisator was installed.

The birth numbers were rising with the top of 579 foals in 1991.

In 1999, the new renovated grandstand was opened. The second and third grandstand are under monument protection (but are going under rack and ruin).

2000s

2004
Frank Stronach, Austro-Canadian Billionaire and owner of many of the major ractracks in the USA, built a racetrack named Magna Racino at Ebreichsdorf in the southeast of Vienna for over 100 millions Euros. Opening was April 4, 2004. The complex has 3 tracks, two for the thoroughbreds and one for the trotters. After heavy losses in the first seasons, the mother organisation Magna Entertainment Cooperation (MEC) quit the contract, since 2007 Stronach is sponsoring the races partly from his private wallet.

2011
Austrian Derbywinner of 2009, Striking Actions, was sold via Holland to french owners and established in the semi first series. His record is 1:10,1 by earnings of nearly 500.000 Euro, which makes him the fastest and richest Austrian Trotter of all time.

2012
The Vienna Trotting Association „Wiener Trabrenn-Verein“ signed a contract with the french PMU for bettings in Austrian races from 2013.

The Vienna Racetrack Krieau will be modificated during summer. The track is cut from a 1100 metre-oval to international standard of 1000 metres with modern curves, which will make the track much more faster than in the past.

2013
The first PMU racing days have been successfully held in March and September.

The Racetrack in Vienna is rented for Open Air concerts with international acts like Bon Jovi or Robbie Williams. The Revenue should help to protect the future of the sport.

2014
9 racing days in cooperation wit the French PMU will be organized, which means much higher purses and a good perspective for all who are involved in the sport.

Some parts of the track has been sold to gain money for structural alteration works. With new contracts, this should help to proctect the trotting sport for a long time in Vienna.


A Map of active Racetracks in Austria


© Nikolaus Matzka 2014–2017