Longchamp loses final pair of Group 1s as ground maintenance takes priority

France Galop has elected to transfer the final three meetings of Longchamp's season to other courses in the Paris area in order to allow course officials to begin vital track maintenance ahead of schedule.

Thursday's meeting will now be the season closer, while the following two Sundays – the Prix du Conseil de Paris card on October 21 and the Group 1 double-header on October 28 – will go ahead at Chantilly. The card on Tuesday, October 30 transfers to Saint-Cloud.

The state of the turf at Longchamp has been a source of worry throughout its first season back in operation after the track's redevelopment. 

The combination of an unusually long and cold winter, a very wet spring and then a prolonged period of near drought have made for challenging circumstances for groundstaff.  

In May track conditions hit the headlines when safety concerns forced officials to switch the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches from the Moyenne Piste (middle track) to the Grande Piste (outer track) at barely 30 minutes notice.

Large parts of the grass surface were reseeded during the six-week summer break but the Arc Trials card in September saw clouds of dusty kickback at the bottom of the false straight and the home turn. 

That section was again resewn and, three weeks later, the turf was in better condition for Arc weekend itself, although there were signs of wear and tear by the time the Prix de la Foret brought the curtain down on the Group-race action last Sunday.

Black-type races on the move

Sunday, October 21 (now at Chantilly)

Prix du Conseil de Paris (Group 2) Piste du Jockey Club
Prix de Saint-Cyr (Listed) Nouvelle Piste
Prix Casimir Delamarre (Listed) Piste Ronde
Prix du Ranelagh (Listed) Piste Ronde

Sunday, October 28 (now at Chantilly)

Criterium International (Group 1) Nouvelle Piste
Prix Royal-Oak (Group 1) Piste Ronde 

Entries have already been made for the Pattern races now scheduled for Chantilly – chosen because it is also right-handed – and France Galop have introduced an extra forfeit stage. 

The decision was taken in consultation with the two trainers' associations and will buy a valuable extra two weeks for groundstaff to work on the track at Longchamp before winter closes in.