Traditionally the Jockey club Rio was where the aristocracy would go to egg on thoroughbred horses. Splashing their wealth betting on which horse would pelt over the finishing line, bouncing jockey still in tact.
The Jockey Club Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1932, less than a hundred years ago. It is perched in arguably the best spot in town. A glorious view of Christ, paces from the regal botanical gardens and on the shores of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.
For those not interested in speedy horses, the grounds (also known as Jockey Club Brasileiro) also lends space to large gatherings and events.
This includes concerts usually sheltered inside a canvas tent (Marisa Monte performed in 2022), festivals like the torresmo festival and live samba music.
You can find alternative events held at Rio’s jockey club on the Ingresse website.
Let’s see how you can spend a Lazy Sunday in Rio de Janeiro’s jockey club.
At the start of the 20th century Brazil was besotted with the Europeans, shipping in English horses and contracting French architect André Reimbert to design the new Jockey Club Rio.
In the beginning there were two teams: The Derby Club and the Jockey Club.
As fair team players they negotiated alternating the use of the new jockey turf. There was peace in horse racing land, until the truth showered down. Their fancy French architect had sucked their funds dry, and the mounting debts meant team ‘Jockey Club’ broke the treaty.
Team Jockey began using the turf every week.
Things were turning sour, until one day they found the solution.
Marrying together into super team of horse riding groupies, they solidified the relationship and became one, the Jockey Club Rio. Therefore, this horsey playground was officially opened in 1932. Since then it has held horse racing every week (suspended during Covid-19) and evolved into the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.
How the Rio Jockey Club Horse Race Betting works
Races run on Sundays from 14PM, Mondays and Tuesdays at 18PM at the racetrack called “hipódromo” in Portuguese.
Bets start from R$2. The name for these horse races in Brazil is “Turfe“.
The Jockey Club Rio updates events on their Instagram page.
To bet you have to head inside the main building. The entrance is on Praça Santos Dumont, 31, Gávea. It is directly opposite the botanical gardens.
It is free to enter the jockey club.
And it’s not just horses! The Jockey Club Rio also hosts every year the Rio Open Tennis competition.
Eat like a Horse – Restaurants in the Jockey Club Rio
There are a staggering ten restaurants and bars on the Jockey Club Rio grounds.
You can check the Jockey website for a complete list (in Portuguese).
Here’s an overview of three very different options to eat and drink.
Páreo in the Jockey Club Rio
Páreo means match or competition, the noun used for horse racing specifically.
The Páreo restaurant is a club on the grounds of the Rio jockey club. The panoramic balcony has a view of the entire course, as well as a shot of the Christ the Redeemer statue.
This restaurant is great for families, with spacious seating and four types of cuisine. Sushi, BBQ, fondue (cheese, meat and chocolate) and pizza (on in the evenings).
The entrance of Casa Camolese is opposite Rua Jardim Botanico, near the entrance to the Jardim Botanico park. From the outside terrace area you can see the racing lanes. The restaurant has a hipster, botanical scene. It is always busy.
You can get pizza, burgers, rice and steak. Something to suit anyone in the group’s cravings.
See Casa Camolese’s menu in English or Portuguese here.
Casa Camolese also has a small concert stage. It hosts intimate live music on special nights. Keep an eye on their Instagram for their upcoming events.
Rubaiyat Rio in the Jockey Club Rio
The Restaurant Rubaiyat is a Latin American giant opening branches in the most prestigious cities of the world. The original restaurant took its name from the tree planted in the centre of the restaurant called a banyan (ficus benghalensis).
Their slogan is good quality ingredients sourced from the best around. A network of suppliers that spread from Argentina to the Brazilian Amazon. They are not frugal with their ingredients and thus neither are their prices.
You’ll feel the rush of wind as the horses race past just in front of the veranda and can gaze up at the Christ Statue, who surveys the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Hold Your Horses: Hacks for the Jockey Club Rio
1. No Shorts Sports
Men, leave those shorts at home. To gain access to the not-so-secretive Rio Jockey club you need to fashion trousers. Save your pins for the beach this is a “Gentleman’s’ club.”
Do you want me to burn up into a puddle of over-heated tourist?
Don’t fret it’s remarkably cool in the shade of the 100-year-old trees on the grounds of the Rio Jockey Club.
2. Flip-Flop Cop
I love my Flip-flops, however, try and sneak your pale toes past the flip-flop cop at the Rio jockey club.
Flip-flops are not allowed.
3. Vampire Fest
Smother yourself in insect repellent.
Shiny, shiny skin for a neighbourhood that backs directly out on the Atlantic Forest.
4. Flat Cat
This sign is found on the grounds of the Rio jockey club.
In Portuguese it says:
“Cuidado. Após ligar o motor, aguarde: pode ter um gato embaixo do seu carro.”
This translates in English as:
“Be careful. After turning on the car engine, wait: there could be a cat underneath your car.”
Out of some mixture of irresponsibility and heart-warming compassion the jockey club has morphed into a cat sanctuary.
There be cats everywhere on the Jockey premises, so save their little button noses and check under your car then drive like a snail.
5. Reservation Nation
The Rio jockey club is a prime location for family weekend meals. The queues are long and it is best to reserve a table beforehand.
- Repeat after me: “eu quero reservar uma mesa”
- How many friends you got?
- “por cinco pessoas”
- “às uma e meia da tarde”
You just booked a table for five people at 1:30PM. And you just guaranteed yourself a place to spend your Lazy Sunday.
Learn more Portuguese in our posts: 30 Portuguese Phrases You Need to Know and Common Portuguese Pronunciation Mistakes.