France suspends all racing until April at the earliest

‘In taking this decision the horse industry also shows its solidarity with the entire nation’

France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

 

Racing in France has been suspended until at least April as part of the country’s battle against the coronavirus.

France had been the first major European racing country to stage the sport behind closed doors.

However, on Monday a statement issued on behalf of France Galop, the country’s racing body, and the trotting sector, said all action would stop.

The statement said: “The moment we are living in is exceptional and of unprecedented gravity.”

The move comes the day before British racing moves behind closed doors. Racing in Ireland has been taking place behind closed doors since Friday night’s fixture at Dundalk.

On Monday, Edouard de Rothschild, president of France Galop, and Le Trot’s Jean-Pierre Barjon said in a joint statement: “Our absolute priority is the health of all people involved in racing and respect for the directives of the state.

“In suspending all racing, we want above all to protect them from the current pandemic. In taking this decision the horse industry also shows its solidarity with the entire nation.

“We are fully aware of the economic consequences of cancelling racing. That is why we have decided to organise a major effort between racing businesses and the governing body.

“That will be the first step in our efforts to safeguard the racing economy.

“We are living in exceptional times, and an unprecedentedly serious situation.

“We know we can count on everyone to contribute in the effort to end this pandemic as quickly as possible. You can also count on our effort and determination. Nobody will be abandoned.”

Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh said the French move had no implications for the sport’s behind closed door policy here.

“We’re working on the basis of the HSE and Taoiseach’s guidelines in terms of keep people working if possible with reasonable health conditions,” said Kavanagh. “It’s a different situation. As far as I understand France has pretty much gone into lockdown.”

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