The Provinces

02.12.2019

The Provinces

For two decades now, the pace throughout the world racing has been relentless. As whatever the time of day, or time of year, horse racing and the sales are in full flow. In a not so distant past, the winter period was the sole preserve of jump racing, and the flat stables went into hibernation. This is now a bygone era. As the introduction of fibresand tracks has enabled racing and the training of horses to take place regardless of the different weather patterns. On the other hand, the big international meetings continued to stack up outside Europe from September onwards. It wasn’t possible to get more exotic than having an end of season finale which revolved around the Breeders’ Cup and the Japan Cup in the 1980s. That is before Hong Kong’s International Meeting came along. Subsequently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) made its grand entrance via its Nad Al Sheba and Meydan meetings. As things stand, the new racing ‘frontier’ comprises Abu Dhabi, Casablanca, Istanbul and Doha, which have all become well established. However, the focus of the ‘two new kids’ on the block centres around making a beeline for the last available dates of racing’s winter calendar: namely the inaugural edition of the Saudi Cup Meeting on February 29th, 2020, plus the Bahrain International Trophy card which was held on November 22nd, 2019. In Saudi Arabia, as in Bahrain, the presence of PA horses is an integral part of these big international meetings. It’s a boon for French racing.

At Manama (Bahrain) Royal Julius, the representative of the Marseille handler Jérôme Reynier, proved tops. The impact of this French win transcends beyond a purse of £ 500,000 and the ensuing ‘charm’ of an ‘exotic’ win. A market place is opening up in the world of racing, and whose frontiers are continually being pushed further field. It’s also indicative of a French provincial set-up which is very open-minded, as the young professionals have no qualms about sending their horses to the most obscure of country tracks, even it means contesting the seventh race on the card, before hopping on a plane where the challenge of the international Gr1 prizes awaits. The results of the France Galop elections, which can partly shape the future of French racing, were notable for the successes of the provincial candidates. On this latter point, the notion that their ideas and methodology should be imposed in Paris, shouldn’t go hand-in-hand with the word autocracy. No, the ‘Provinces’ need to be bold. This entity, drawing from the examples provided by jump and PA racing, needs to reconcile the symbiosis of its commercial and international ambitions with the dynamic provided by the very fabric of its local racing. As it’s the sum total of the parts which will guarantee the future of French racing.