France has a long and proud tradition of horse racing as does Australia which is home to the world’s richest handicap – the Melbourne Cup.
Whilst the modern rules of the sport may have been established in the United Kingdom, France has been hosting horse racing events for over a hundred and fifty years.
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The governing body of French horse racing is the organisation France-Galop and they organise over six and a half thousand races in the country every year. With destinations as famous as Chantilly and Longchamp and prestigious races such as the Prix du Jockey Club and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, France has a long, distinguished racing heritage.
With a number of excellent courses and an average of more than fifteen races every day there are many betting opportunities available online not just for the showcase races but on an everyday basis.
As well as boasting a membership of almost ten thousand owners, breeders and jockeys, France-Galop runs most of the major racecourses in France.
Deauville is the leading flat racing centre in the country. Constructed in 1862 the course has a beautiful location adjacent to the town centre and sea front and stands in France’s biggest horse breeding region. Its August meeting attracts visitors from around the world for its four prestigious group One races including the Prix Rothschild and Prix Morny.
The largest course in the Paris region is the stunning Maisons-Laffitte to the north west of the city. Over a hundred and twenty five years old, the course shares the distinction of having the longest “home straight” in Europe at a breathtaking two kilometres long. Between March and November the course hosts a number of conditions meetings with races including the Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte and the Prix Eclipse.
The most popular betting events in the French horse racing calendar are the four ?classic? races. These are held in June, July and October at the Longchamp and Chantilly courses.
The first classic of the year is the Prix du Jockey Club (also known as the French Derby) run at the Chantilly course, located about fifty kilometres north of Paris. Open to three year old colts and fillies it is a flat race run over a distance of 2,100 metres (about ten and a half furlongs). The Prix du Jockey Club was first run in 1836 and is normally held very close to the English Derby which means no horse has ever won both races.
Chantilly’s other classic race is the Prix de Diane, run a week after the Prix du Jockey Club. Knows as the French Oaks it is a race for three year old fillies over the same trip as the French Derby. With a purse of eight hundred thousand euros in 2009 (almost one and a half million dollars) it attracts many horses from France and overseas and was won by the French horse Saucelita in June 2009.
The venue for France’s other two classic races is the world famous Longchamp course. Situated in the Bois du Boulougne on the banks of the River Seine in Paris the course has over forty different starting points and several interlaced tracks for running over different distances. Now over a hundred and fifty years old the course hosts over half of the Class One races in the country.
The Grand Prix de Paris in early July is the first of its classic races and is run over 2,400 meters in early July. As it is for three year old colts and fillies it has been won on a number of occasions by the winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, most recently in 1997.
Whilst the Grand Prix de Paris attracts huge crowds, Longchamp’s other classic race is one of the most famous on the sporting calendar. With a purse in 2008 of four million euros (just over seven million dollars) the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the richest horse race in Europe and the second richest race contested on turf in the world (after the Japan Cup).
The betting interest on this most famous of race meetings is significant. The prize purse for the whole meeting is in excess of twelve million dollars and so it attracts the cream of the world’s horses, owners and jockeys. There are many online markets available during the meeting for not only “l’Arc” but for a total of seven Class One and four Class Two races.
As well as the four classic races in the calendar and a number of high profile meetings at the main France-Galop courses there are also a number of well-renowned other courses that host a series of meetings throughout the year.
Auteuil plays host to one of France’s most spectacular races in May each year, the Gras Savoye Grand Steeple-Chase. Similar to the English Grand National, the Grand Steeple-Chase is run over a 5,800 metre trip with twenty three daunting jumps for riders and horses to negotiate. Another popular jumps circuit is in Enghien which hosts two high profile annual steeplechase events in October and November.
As well as these courses there are a large number of provincial racecourses throughout France. From Bruyeres in the North to Carcassone to the South, on any given day there may well be a dozen different race meetings scheduled. This gives a punter a myriad of betting opportunities on every race card at every active course in the country on a daily basis, not just at the main France-Galop courses.
The online betting potential for racing in France is therefore immense. Hundreds of meetings at many venues leave punters spoilt for choice and whilst there are plenty of races on which to profit, it is the case that many racing followers look more closely at the prestigious, high interest meetings from a betting perspective. The four classic races are the biggest from a betting point of view, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe remains one of the most famous and wagered races in the sporting calendar.