The 14th National Gallop officially kicked off at noon on Saturday at Heroes’ Square and ended the following day. Representing Szabadka, Nikolett Szabó won the race on the back of her yellow mare, Pipacs (“Poppy”).
Each year, the event commemorates a different historical figure. This year, for the first time in 13 years, the focus was not on legendary male hussars and soldiers, but on a pair of female twins, Antónia and Karolina Zichy, who were the flag mothers of the first regiments of the Hungarian Defense Forces. This means that they were the ones who handed the flags representing the nation and those who fought for it to the heroes. Antónia Zichy is also remembered as the wife of Count Lajos Batthyány.
The later winner Nikolett Szabó, from Szabadka on her horse Pipacs. Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI
Nikolett Szabó is a student of the legendary trainer Sándor Ribárszki. In recent years, he also played a key role in the success of the Hungarian “wonder horse,” Overdose.
On one occasion, Overdose, the “miracle” stallion won
twelve races in a row and ranked third in the world in 2008. Overdose’s career has been compared
by experts to the life of Kincsem, the Hungarian “wonder mare.” At one point, the horse’s value was estimated at HUF 1.5 billion (EUR 4.2 million). The world-famous horse died
in 2015 following a long battle with colic. A memorial was set up where Overdose’s ashes were laid
to rest at the Alagi Training Center, the courtyard where the stallion was in training for most of his life.
Each year, there is a star charity race that Hungarian celebrities attend. Actor Péter Bács won this year with a mare called Rolex.
In the three-and-a-half-lap final, Farkaslaka had the best start, but Szabó took the lead and won the race, countering the attack of the former two-time winner, Arnold Nagy (Fantázia, Heves). Third place went to Csaba Tamás of Farkaslaka.
24-year-old Nikolett Szabó already won the pony class in 2013, then with a yellow mare as well, but this was the first time she reached the final of the “regular” National Gallop.
Featured image: Nikolett Szabó, rider of Szabadka at the final of the 14th National Parade at Heroes’ Square. Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI