ParisLongchamp Back in the Limelight

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Golden Horn winning the Arc before the renovation of Longchamp | Scoop Dyga

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Ahead of the reopening of Longchamp Racecourse, which has been rebranded as ParisLongchamp, the team involved in the redevelopment has received a boost with the news that John Gosden plans to aim Cracksman (GB) (Frankel {GB}) at the G1 Prix Ganay on Apr. 29.

There's nothing like the reappearance of a champion to enhance a new arena's status. As it is, both the trainer and the owner-breeder of the best European 3-year-old colt of 2017, Anthony Oppenheimer, must have a real fondness for the Parisian course, as they triumphed in the last meeting held there, when Golden Horn (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}) won the 2015 G1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

To celebrate the long-awaited reopening, France Galop has doubled the purse of the Prix Ganay from €300,000 to €600,000, and for one year only has added to its title the sub-heading 'Grand Prix de l'inauguration de ParisLongchamp'.

By the time Cracksman is due to enter the starting stalls, four meetings will already have taken place at ParisLongchamp on Apr. 8, 15, 19 and 24–the beginning of 34 racing days in 2018. With ParisLongchamp being the principal French racecourse, every meeting there is significant and the racing starts with some informative meetings:

Sunday, Apr. 8:

  • G2 Prix d'Harcourt, a Ganay prep
  • G3 Prix La Force, a French Derby trial over nine furlongs
  • G3 Prix Vanteaux, a Prix de Diane trial over nine furlongs

Sunday, Apr.15:

  • G3 Prix de Fontainebleau, a French 2000 Guineas trial
  • G3 Prix de la Grotte, a French 1000 Guineas trial
  • G3 Prix Noailles, potential French Derby trial over 10 1/2f

Altogether, France Galop celebrates the return of 48 group races and 24 listed races to their home at ParisLongchamp. The Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Pouliches (French 2000 and 1000 Guineas) will return to where they belong after two years on Deauville's straight course. Some will miss it, but the new French Guineas will be slightly different. To neutralise the effects of the draw in races which often have large fields, the two French mile Classics will now use the Moyenne Piste (Middle Course) rather than the main course, as the start on the new circuit is not as close to the first bend as on the larger course.

The Guineas trials run at ParisLongchamp will also use the same course.

Even more important, is the new open stretch that will be set after the very last bend. It has been designed to open the field at this critical point of the races, so that fewer horses end up boxed in. With a 'false rail' positioned 10 metres from the rail, a cutaway will begin approximately 150 metres after the turn.

The G1 Gurkha Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary is back at ParisLongchamp alongside the G1 Churchill Coolmore Prix d'Ispahan at the end of May after its two-year stint on the French Guineas card.

Deauville nevertheless loses only one Group 1 race, since the Prix Jean Prat has been moved from Chantilly to Deauville's straight course on July 8. Only weeks before the beginning of the Lucien Barrière at Deauville Summer meeting, with the Prix Jacques le Marois-Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard a month later, it is hoped that a straight mile for 3-year-olds will be more appealing than the Chantilly version that has lacked support.

Created in 1897, the G1 Qatar Prix Vermeille is one of the most precious jewels in French racing's heritage. Restricted to 3-year-old fillies only until 2004, when it was opened to 4-year-olds, and to older mares two years later, it has been increasingly affected by the emergence of other first-class distaff races in the European pattern programme. Since 2016, it has no longer featured in the top 100 races in the world, whereas both the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the G1 QIPCO Fillies and Mares Champion S. have entered that elite 100. France Galop has therefore decided to increase the purse of the Prix Vermeille by more than double, from €250,000 to €600,000.

The Prix Vermeille and the Arc Trials will be held on Sept. 16, three weeks prior to Arc weekend. The G1 Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, however, will be staged a week earlier than it used to be, on Sunday, Sept. 9. Like the French Guineas, it will also be contested on the Moyenne Piste.

More good news for ParisLongchamp comes with the rise in support for the Prix de Qatar l'Arc de Triomphe weekend from The Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC). The significant prizemoney increases for some of the top races of the meeting are:

  • Qatar Arabian World Cup (G1-PA) purse raised to €1.2m (+€200,000)
  • Prix de l'Opera Longines (G1) purse raised to €500,000 (+€100,000)
  • Total Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) purse raised to €400,000 (+€100,000)
  • Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) purse raised to €400,000 (+€50,000)

 

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