Dubai: Less than two weeks after flat racing resumed in Paris with a bumper race meeting at Longchamp, the French government has pulled the plug on the sport due to the rise of coronavirus cases in certain ‘red spots’.
The May 11 meeting featured key trials for both the French Classics and was scheduled to lead up to the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (2,000 Guineas) and the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (1,000 Guineas) on June 1-2.
However, racecourses like Longchamp which is located in the ‘red zone,’ will not be allowed to continue to function.
The new government measures will allow racing only to continue in Normandy and the south and the west of the country, but Longchamp, Saint-Cloud and Auteuil, all of which are located close to Paris, will be closed subject to a further review of the situation.
Subsequent races scheduled for these venues will have to be shifted to other racecourses, with the Guineas meeting now likely to be re-routed to Deauville, which hosted them for two years during the redevelopment of Longchamp racecourse.
Victor Ludorum and Earthlight, both owned by Dubai’s Godolphin racing stable are the first and second favourites for the 2,000 Guineas.
Thursday’s card at Longchamp also transfers to Deauville in the Normandy region while on Friday the fixture at Fontainebleau moves to Vichy in central France, and Compiegne’s card to Dieppe, also in Normandy.
France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild took to twitter to describe the government ban on all Paris racecourses as “inexplicable and irrational”.
“I will not give in. I am proud of your exemplary behaviour behind closed doors since May 11 and the colossal work undertaken by our teams for more than two months. We have been and will be reactive. Long live racing!” he said in his post on @EddeRothschild
France Galop, the sport’s governing body, has now no option but to find new venues away from Paris for race meetings.
Longchamp is scheduled to host the first two Classics of the season, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Pouliches on June 2, which are now likely to be rerouted to Deauville, which hosted them for two years during the redevelopment of Longchamp.