Where is horse racing returning in France on Monday and how will it work?

Marcus Armytage
The Telegraph
Racing will resume in France on Monday - AP
Racing will resume in France on Monday - AP

When and where is racing returning in France?

There are three meetings on Monday, starting with flat racing from Longchamp in Paris where the first race is 9.55am, jump racing from Compiegne (2.35pm) and a mixed meeting from Toulouse (4.50pm). That’s a steady stream of 30 races in a 12-hour period, a feast after famine for punters who have been on rations of cold turkey for two months.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

How will French racing ‘a huis clos’ (behind closed doors) work?

In a nutshell the racecourse is open strictly for work not leisure; you can only stay while you work. One gate will be open and people clocked in and out. Only two people per horse are allowed so no owners, racing managers or breeders. Jockeys must wear masks but can pull them down during a race. No indoor areas are open except the weighing room. No showers, no saunas.

When British racing re-starts it will be a gentle approach. Is that the French way too?

No. There’s nothing slowly, slowly catch a monkey about this. It is not hanging around. There are three Group races, including a Guineas trail at Longchamp. Some of the big guns are out with France’s best older horse Sottsass, its Derby winner, running in the Prix d’Harcourt while Victor Ludorum, an unbeaten Group One winning two-year-old, goes in the Prix de Fontainebleu.   

Were there any last minute hitches?

As it does in Germany and Ireland, racing comes under the jurisdiction of agriculture rather than sport – I have never seen Christophe Soumillon, the multi-millionaire jockey, described as a farm labourer but there you go. Only in France, however, could one sport (football – off until September) get jealous and question whether another (racing) should be allowed to return. It led to tense negotiations with the Government through Friday but all’s well that end’s well.

Where can I watch this feast of live sport?

All three meetings will be broadcast on Sky Sports Racing. There will be a studio presenter, a French racing pundit on Skype while one of the five accredited journalists at Longchamp is Katherine Ford, who will conduct interviews from two metres and be doing the filming herself. 

Will the British Horse Authority be watching?

Undoubtedly. Its key job is to decipher the implications of the Prime Minister’s speech for our own racing resumption. However it has already been in discussion with France and Ireland about the logistics of resumption and best practice.  

What to read next