Coronavirus pandemic: Shock U-turn forces Paris racecourses to close

Tue 19 May 2020

France Galop has been forced into a reorganisation of its fixture list after the French Government withdrew its approval to race in areas still heavily affected by the coronavirus.

The Government classifies different parts of the country into red and green zones and with Paris in a red area, the likes of ParisLongchamp, Auteuil and Saint-Cloud will no longer be permitted to race.

Racing can continue in the south and west of the country, with France Galop looking to reschedule meetings at alternate venues.

A statement from the authority said: “After obtaining permission to resume racing on Monday, May 11, the parent companies learned during the day that a government decree specifying the terms and conditions for the opening of the racecourses would be published in the next few days.

“This decree should specify that horseracing is indeed carried out in the departments located in the green zones but not in those located in the red zones. The regions in red are Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Grand-Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

“While the resumption of racing is reinforced by this decree to be published, the parent companies and the Fédération Nationale des Courses Hippiques deeply regret that the racecourses located in the red zones cannot operate as they have done since May 11.

“The reinforced closed-door protocol and all sanitary measures have also been scrupulously respected since the resumption of racing on May 11. Regular controls have been carried out and have not revealed any problems.

“However, the parent companies take note of this decision, which regulates the conditions for the resumption of horseracing, and will apply the new directives from Thursday.

“Some prefectures, such as Paris, have already anticipated the publication of the decree by notifying France Galop and LeTrot this morning of the decision to prohibit the opening of their racecourses.

 Shaman was a winner at ParisLongchamp last week. Racing is now not allowed at the venue, which was due to stage the French Guineas on June 1 (Focusonracing)
Shaman was a winner at ParisLongchamp last week. Racing is now not allowed at the venue, which was due to stage the French Guineas on June 1 (Focusonracing)

“The teams are working on plans to rearrange the May and June calendar and will announce as soon as possible where the races that were scheduled in the red zones will be held. This calendar will be subject to changes as soon as a red department turns green.”

Olivier Delloye, CEO of France Galop, is hopeful no meetings will be lost as a result of the decision.

He tweeted: “I hoped our contingency plans would not be necessary but they will for the forthcoming weeks. B-plan to be released soon. No fixture will be lost – racing goes on but we need to adapt to fast changing (and hard to read) rules.”

ParisLongchamp was scheduled to race on Thursday and it is also due to stage the French Guineas meeting on June 1.

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