French racetracks to be closed under new government advice

20 May 2020

A number of French racetracks look likely to be shut down only a week after resuming activities, with the country’s government preparing new rules for the racing industry’s return to action.

While horse racing returned from 11 May, flat and steeplechase racing’s governing body France Galop has been informed by the government that it intends to to publish rules for the reopening of racetracks in the coming days.

Racing had been suspended since 17 March, as a result of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

This will specify ‘green zones’ - administrative regions in which racing can continue - and ‘red zones’, where it must shut down.

According to France Galop, there will be four red zones. This includes Ile-de-France, the home of nine tracks including Longchamp and Vincennes; Hauts-de-France, where there are 11; Grand-Est (six); and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (four).

France Galop and harness racing governing body LeTrot, and racetrack association la Fédération Nationale des Courses Hippiques therefore said they “deeply regret” that these 30 tracks would therefore have to close once again.

They pointed out that the strict social distancing measures set out to prevent the spread of Covid-19 had been “scrupulously respected”, with regular inspections revealing no issues.

Nevertheless, the tracks will be expected to close, most likely from Thursday (21 May). Certain prefectures such as Paris, in Ile-de-France have already informed France Galop and LeTrot of the ban on racing being imposed.

As such each governing body’s team is working to reorganise the racing schedule for May and June, and will look to relocate any events in the red zones to others. Further changes will be made as soon as these regions are permitted to host racing again.