FRENCH racing was dealt a major blow on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that tracks situated in Paris and some areas in the north-east of the country must again be closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Among the affected racecourses in these ‘red zones’ are ParisLongchamp, Chantilly, Auteuil and Saint-Cloud.
France Galop subsequently confirmed that upcoming major races scheduled for Paris tracks will be moved. The first two classics, the Poule d’Essai Poulains and Pouliches, are likely to be staged in Deauville in Normandy. Thursday's Longchamp card has already been moved to Deauville.
Olivier Delloye, chief executive of France Galop, was quick to tweet: "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."
Racing in France stopped on March 17th and resumed 55 days later on Monday, May 11th, behind closed doors. The restart almost did not happen as President Macron at first overruled the Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to allow racing to resume. It took a frantic weekend of negotiations to convince the President to change his mind.
However, it appears that the infection rate in the red zones remains too high and on Tuesday a new law was introduced which, when passed in the coming days, will force racing to stop in these areas. Tracks in Paris have already accepted the inevitable.
A statement issued by France Galop said the new law will “specify that horse racing activity is well ensured in the departments located in the green zone but not in those located in the red zone.”
The statement continued: “The Racing Associations … will apply these new directives from Thursday. Certain prefectures such as Paris have already anticipated the publication of the decree by notifying France Galop and LeTrot this morning of the ban on opening their racetracks.
“France Galop is working on reorganisation plans for the May and June calendar and will announce as soon as possible where the meetings that were scheduled in the red zone will take place. This calendar is likely to change as soon as a red department turns green.”