Horse Racing on the Streets of Rabat

In SecondLast night, as part of Rabat’s festa, Gozo’s main city hosted 36 (36!) horse races up it’s main street. The course was a straight-away, about a kilometre long and went up a seriously steep incline.

It was pretty fun, and definitely not a show for the tourists. There were a smattering of visitors around, but the majority of the fans were locals, drinking beer, smoking cigars and consulting race programs. I assume there was a schwack of gambling going on, though I didn’t actually spot any.

I’m sure it was pretty safe, but I liked the imagined danger of the horses (and harness racers) roaring past the crowds with nothing but a few feet between them. As you can see in this photo, the crowd actually stands in the middle of the road to get a better view until the horses get quite close.

I took a bunch of photos, and these were the fourteen best ones. It’s a busy day here, so I made extensive use of the poor man’s Photoshop–ye olde ‘Enhance’ button in iPhoto.


  1. Darren: Frankly, the event sounded ultra boring.. as good as you tried to talk it up!

  2. The event is an old tradition which is found in many countries around Europe. The most famous horse racing event associated with a feast is the Palio di Siena that takes place in July and August in the Italian medieval town.

    You will be able to see similar horse races in Rabat on 15th August – the feast of the Assumption. Incidentally the original name of the street where the races take place is “Racecourse Street” – known among locals as it-Tigrija” (the race).

    There. Another Knowledge moment brought to you by j’accuse!

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