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French races open to foreign runners for the first time since Covid-19 outbreak

A return to France is now at least possible, if not straightforward, for British and Irish-trained runners
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France Galop has ended its temporary halt on foreign entries after the government in Paris indicated it would not support an extension to the current closure of European borders imposed at the height of the coronavirus epidemic. 

The ruling body was left with no alternative but to close off foreign-based entries following a Prime Ministerial decree to close the borders but, with that measure set not to be renewed, the restriction on runners trained outside of France has been lifted for races run from June 15 onwards. 

Whether that leads to a flood of horses trained in Britain and Ireland heading across to challenge for France's top prizes remains to be seen, since the quarantine required of all staff other than box drivers by the British, Irish and French governments is still in effect. 

"It's excellent news for French racing and we hope the French government's new position will last all the time the health situation continues to improve," said France Galop director general Olivier Delloye. "There's still the question of quarantine imposed by certain countries, which could complicate the life of staff accompanying runners when they return home."

Olivier Delloye believes Longchamp has to be fit for different scales of racing occasion

While a small minority of French trainers may have enjoyed having a break from Anglo-Irish raiders, the resumption of international competition cannot come soon enough in some cases.

Sunday's Group 1 Prix Ganay at Chantilly is set to feature just five runners, though its rescheduling to a slot three days before the Prince of Wales's Stakes means it might have struggled even if it had been open to British and Irish trainers. 

In contrast the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on June 28 has an initial entry of 10 including a British-based quartet of Old Persian, Headman, Fanny Logan and Telecaster. 

If the quarantine situation is not relaxed then trainers wishing to take up those entries, or the Prix du Jockey Club-Prix de Diane double-header at Chantilly a week later, may need to find resourceful solutions such as those due to be employed by Francis Graffard with his two Ascot-bound runners next week

Graffard will be entrusting Wooded and Plumatic to trusted allies in Newmarket.

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There is still the question of quarantine imposed by certain countries, which could complicate the life of staff accompanying runners
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