The Prix Jean Prat on July 12 will be the first major French race to take place in front of any sort of crowd since the sport was halted back in March
The French government has announced that all sports stadia, including racecourses, will be reopened to the paying public from July 11, with a limit of 5,000 people in the initial stages.
The news came as part of a raft of announcements surrounding the easing of lockdown restrictions, following a late-night session of the Defence and National Security Council (CSDN), France’s equivalent of the COBRA committee.
The France Galop communique on Friday had offered the possibility the government might look at putting a partial end to the closed doors regime as early as this week and, while the CSDN’s decision puts that on hold until July 11 – the day that France’s state of emergency is due to end – the welcome sight of punters and racegoers back on major European racetracks is now tantalisingly close.
The 5,000-person limit will mean for the biggest days it will not be quite business as usual, though the government made clear that even this limit might not last too much longer.
France Galop will announce in the coming days how it will handle the partial reopening of its racecourses to the public. The 5,000-person limit is unlikely to pose an issue on regular days, and comes a week too late for the Prix du Jockey Club/Prix de Diane Longines double header at Chantilly on July 5.
But with the popular summer meeting at Deauville around the corner, it remains to be seen whether advanced ticketing might be introduced.
What can be said with some certainty is that, barring a second wave of the virus leading to a reversal in government policy, the centenary Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will be staged in front of a paying public at Longchamp on October 4.