French racing setback as government alters COVID-19 policy

Racecourses in France could face a second shutdown after the government withdrew its approval to allow racing to resume in areas still affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

To mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the French government has recently classified different areas of the country into red and green zones – red being assigned to those areas heavily affected by the coronavirus.

The likes of ParisLongchamp, Auteuil and Saint-Cloud will be affected by the decision, however racing can continue in the south and west of the country.

In light of the decision, France Galop has been forced to reorganise its fixture list, and is currently looking at rescheduling meetings at alternate venues.

The racing body revealed that it would issue a revised racing programme as soon as possible, with the suggestion that races could soon return to their original locations once certain areas become green on the government’s coronavirus map.

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.

“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.”