Meanwhile in … Lithuania: racecourse for rent

Horse Racing Lithuania Raseiniai racecourse
Raseiniai racecourse in Lithuania: available to rent. Photo: Vytalius Judickas

Lithuania: One of the more unusual pieces of property has come on the market in eastern Europe where the city of Raseiniai is seeking a new custodian to rent its racecourse.

Raseiniai racecourse is being offered as a rental opportunity to interested parties, including racing authorities, racecourse groups and betting operators across Europe.

Horse Racing in Lithuania
Racing at Raseiniai in Lithuania, where there are around 50 horses in training, Photo: Vytalius Judickas

The 1,400m oval has separate sand and turf tracks, a spectator stand, offices, plus barn for 25 horses, and can be licensed to operate with pari-mutuel betting.

The city’s mayor has asked Linas Balciunas, a champion eventer and licensed racehorse trainer in Lithuania, to help with the project. Balciunas also works for the Royal Studs in Norfolk.

“We built three racecourses in Lithuania with EU money after which the municipalities had to support them for five years,” explains Balciunas, who has also worked for Sir Michael Stoute.

“The five years will be finished after New Year so a group of owners and the city’s mayor decided to offer it for rent and see if we could get somebody clever from one of the popular European countries to come and organise everything.

“Everyone feels we are standing still so we wanted somebody clever who could organise more and better quality racing.”

With only around 50 horses in training, racing is small-scale in Lithuania, where the season starts in April. According to Balciunas, it is closer to Scandinavia in style than the country’s other neighbours Poland and Russia, and several Lithuanian trainers have experience of working in England, Ireland and France.

“As I work abroad all the time I am helping them,” said Balciunas. “I grew up there so I am able to explain everything.”

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