Trotting in the Habsburg Monarchy – Part 1

A Trip by Nikolaus Matzka and Gabriel Petrík

The inspiration for the trip comes from the book „A Magyar Ügető“ (The Hungarian trotter) written by Dr. József Vecseklőy. It consists six volumes, the first one was published in 1981. The publication is devoted to the evolution of the trotting, both breeding and racing, said in very detailed way. It focuses on the Hungarian history, but in the chapters dedicated to the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867 - 1918) there is lot of information related to Austria.

The Monarchy, as the historical stage when all the regional trotting racing and breeding started, is in the focus of our historical research. Based on this book we decided to take part in a trip in Hungary and Slovakia, and to visit some significant places of the history. We took this 4-day trip in July 2014.

Day 1

Gattendorf, Austria
Stud Marienhof was established here by Gustav Schreder in 1891. In the beginning the stud’s production was based on Russian stallions, later stood here Ajándék, the winner of both Monarchical trotting derbies in 1889. The stud discontinued its breeding activity in 1895, many of its broodmares established later families lived through the WW2.

Gattendorf, Austria.   Foto: Nikolaus Matzka

Pápa and Ganna, Hungary

Pápa was the residence of Count Moritz Esterházy (1856 – 1900) who was devoted mainly to the gallop horses, e.g. he was the co-owner of Vederemo, the winner of Austrian gallop derby in 1881. Count Esterházy was the breeder of Revolver, the winner of the 2nd edition of the Austrian trotting derby in 1885. His breeding facilities were situated near to the city. He is buried in the mausoleum of the Esterházy family in Ganna near Pápa.

Ganna, Hungary.   Foto: Gabriel Petrik

Bakonypölöske and Noszlop, Hungary
Baron Zsigmond Üchtritz (1846 - 1925) was together with Count Nikolaus Esterházy one of the most active members of the Hungarian trotting community in Budapest in the 1880’s. As a sportsman with passion for gallop races he bred trotters from thoroughbred horses. He had only three registered trotters in the Austro-Hungarian Trotting Studbook. All of them were born from the mare Lady Mordaunt and two of them won the Hungarian Trotting Derby (1885 – Dami, 1886 – Rastelbinder, both by the stallion Dami, also a thoroughbred). In the beginning of the 1890’s, after dramatic reduction and the subsequent pause of the trotting races in Hungary, he left behind the trotting scene and focused on gallop horses. His breeding establishment was in these two villages, today there are no traces of the original sites.

Kelevíz, Hungary
We chose the Bat Barn Guest in Kelevíz as the accommodation for the first night. It is owned by Hunyady family which ancestors were at the birth of regional gallop races (organized in 1814 by Count József Hunyady near today’s Mojmírovce in Slovakia) and the Trotting Association in Vienna (established by Count Kálmán Hunyady in 1874).

Keleviz, Hungary. The areal is still owned by the Hunyady-family. We stayed for one night in this picturesque hotel.   Foto: Nikolaus Matzka

Day 2

Pusztaberény, Hungary

The stud near Lengyeltóti was founded in the beginning of the 20th century and shortly became one of the most successful breeders in the Monarchy. They bred there many winners of the biggest Monarchical races, e.g. Austrian trotting derby winners Lengyeltóti and Ispán, Graf Kálmán Hunyady Gedenkrennen winners Lora and Indiana, Preis der Stadt Wien winner Szigetvár and many others. 

Pusztaberény 1, Hungary.   Foto: Nikolaus Matzka

The stud was the Hungarian champion breeder almost every year between the two World wars, after the WW2 the horses were moved away from there and the stud discontinued its operation. Today it is operating as a cattle farm.

Pusztaberény 2, Hungary.   Foto: Nikolaus Matzka

Törökszentmiklós, Tápiószentmárton, Fegyverne and Pusztataskony, Hungary

The first trotting races with written evidence in Hungary took part during the three days racing meeting in October 1857 in Törökszentmiklós. The mile track was set near to the city center, probably in the direction towards north-east, where is today the sport center.
One of the races during the meeting was a trotting race for four wheel carts pulled by two horses. The distance was set for two English miles, in every round competed one cart against another. From the four starters the winner was Ernst v. Blaskovics (1834 - 1911), the later breeder of unbeaten thoroughbred mare Kincsem (1874 - 1887, 54 consecutive wins in 13 countries). His stud was in Tápiószentmárton, this property is now operating as a horse park together with the museum dedicated to this famous mare.
The main organizer of the races in Törökszentmiklós in 1857 was Count Gyula Szapáry (1832 – 1905). His property with horse-breeding was in Fegyvernek, nowadays there is a retirement home. Between 1890 and 1892 he was the Prime Minister of Hungary. His tomb is in the chapel near Pusztataskony.

Pusztataskony, Hungary.   Foto: Gabriel Petrik

Text by Gabriel Petrik. The second part of the story will be published soon.

Nikolaus Matzka is Editor in Chief of the Austrian trotting racing programs Krieau Aktuell and Baden Aktuell and Editor of the Trotting Websites and He lives in Vienna, Austria.

Gabriel Petrík is trotting fan, working as an IT-Specialist and living with his family in Bratislava, Slovakia. He publishes the website including a historic Austrian-Hungarian Studbook (see also here).


© Nikolaus Matzka 2014–2022