When and where is racing back in France?
Monday, there are three meetings, starting with the flat races from Longchamp to Paris where the first race is at 9:55 am, the Compiègne jump races (2:35 pm) and a mixed meeting in Toulouse (4:50 pm). It’s a steady stream of 30 runs over a 12-hour period, a celebration after famine for punters who have been eating cold turkey for two months.
How will the French “behind closed doors” race (behind closed doors) work?
In short, the racetrack is open strictly for work and not for leisure; you can only stay while you work. A door will be opened and people will point in and out. Only two people per horse are allowed, so no owners, race managers or breeders. Jockeys must wear masks but can lower them during a race. No interior space is open except the weighing room. No showers, no saunas.
When the British race resumes, it will be a gentle approach. Is it also the French way?
No. There’s nothing slowly, slowly grab a monkey about it. He doesn’t hang around. There are three group races, including a track from Guineas to Longchamp. Some of the big guns came out with France’s best horse Sottsass, his Derby winner, who raced in the Prix d’Harcourt while Victor Ludorum, a two-year-old Group 1 unbeaten, competes in the Prix Fontainebleu.
Were there any last minute problems?
As in Germany and Ireland, racing is about farming rather than sport – I’ve never seen Christophe Soumillon, the multimillionaire jockey, described as a farm worker, but there you go. It is only in France, however, that a sport (football – off until September) can become jealous and wonder if another (race) should be allowed to return. This led to tense negotiations with the government until Friday, but all is well.
Where can I watch this sports festival live?
The three meetings will be broadcast on Sky Sports Racing. There will be a presenter in the studio, a French racing expert on Skype, while one of the five journalists accredited to Longchamp is Katherine Ford, who will conduct interviews two meters away and do the filming herself.
Will the British Horse Authority monitor?
Undoubtedly. His key job is to decipher the implications of the Prime Minister’s speech for our own resumption of racing. However, it has already been in discussions with France and Ireland on recovery logistics and good practices.