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Green or red? French racing rushes to reallocate meetings after Paris shutdown

French Guineas set to be run at Deauville with Longchamp primed for closure

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Deauville will host the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and Poulains for the third time in five years, it was announced on Wednesday night, with the French versions of the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas run over the straight mile at the Normandy track.

France Galop announced the move as part of a series of relocation measures after being forced to close its racecourses in Paris, including Longchamp.

The Classics will be staged as planned on Monday, June 1, while a day earlier Deauville will also host the meeting originally scheduled for Chantilly, featuring the Grand Prix de Chantilly and the Prix du Gros-Chene. 

France Galop wasted no time in activating back-up plans to switch the meetings most immediately affected by a new government decree that temporarily forced the closure of tracks in the so-called 'red zones' where the coronavirus is still actively circulating. 

The cards scheduled at Longchamp on Thursday and Sunday have been moved to Deauville on the Normandy coast with minimal alteration to race distances, while Dieppe will double for Compiegne's Friday jumps fixture and the same day's Flat meeting at Fontainebleau is now relocated 160 miles south to Vichy. Lyon Parilly has inherited next Monday's Saint-Cloud card. 

Deauville: set to host the French 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, just as it did in 2016 and 2017

Planning is being undertaken on the basis that the new government decree – which has yet to be published – will not be subject to any early revision.

Rather, for racecourses to be reopened, their departments will need to pass into the green column when the map is next redrawn, probably for the second stage of deconfinement, set for June 2. 

While there appeared to be little warning of the new shutdown ahead of Tuesday's communique, Arc-winning trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre was not as taken by surprise as many.

"Personally I didn't expect the authorities to give the initial go-ahead to run in Paris and the other affected zones straight away," said Royer-Dupre. "I wouldn't have been shocked if that had been the decision in the first place."

Alain de Royer-Dupre: not surprised by temporary loss of the Paris tracks and Chantilly

"When you have prepared a horse on a big galloping track like Chantilly it's always preferable to run them in races on the same type of track. But we don't have the choice and, in a year which is already quite different to any other, you have to be able to adapt. Before you might have felt certain horses had a preference for certain tracks but we don't have that luxury now if we want to run them."

Of major concern remains the reprogramming of the spring jumps highlights, given the unique nature of Auteuil. 

Although the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris is scheduled for June 7, Paris remains far from certain to be granted green zone status in the next round of government announcements. 

Champion trainer Francois Nicolle told the Racing Post that, if Auteuil remained unavailable, he was in favour of pushing the three spring Grade 1s including the Grand Steeple back to the early autumn, rather than relocating to Pau as has been suggested in some quarters. 


Read more:

Paris tracks face shock lockdown as government changes Covid-19 policy

Racecourse guides: essential insight into the French tracks back in business

Five things we learned after week one of the French resumption


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We don't have the choice and, in a year which is already quite different to any other, you have to be able to adapt
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