Horse racing resumed at Cyprus' Nicosia racecourse on Thursday (26 December) ... six months after?
Horse racing resumed at Cyprus' Nicosia racecourse on Thursday (26 December) ... six months after the Turkish invasion of the island in mid-July. Since then no races had been held.
Some 6,000 Greek Cypriots packed the grandstand, and from the other side of the racecourse Turkish soldiers of the invasion force watched free of charge. The racecourse lies directly between the lines occupied by the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish army.
When a ceasefire was declared in August, trainers and jockeys began work again to get the island's 600 horses back in training.
There were doubts whether many Greek Cypriot racing fans would risk going to the course again with the Turkish soldiers close by. But they turned out in droves for the traditional Boxing Day meeting to bet on the horses -- some of which survived bombing attacks when stables were damaged in the invasion.
Despite the fact that money is very scarce on the island, betting was briek. In fact, the day's take came to 30,000 pounds sterling (72,000 U.S. dollars) -- just 10,000 pounds sterling (24,000 U.S. dollars) less than the normal take before the war.