Senegal international Niang among five men who broke Marseille no-entry order

Senegal international striker M'Baye Niang and a high-ranking local racing official were among five men to have been caught breaking the closed-doors restrictions at Marseille Pont-de-Vivaux racecourse on May 12, just the second day of French racing's return to action following the coronavirus lockdown. 

In the first race on the card Swetty Beauty carried the colours of Niang, who was accompanied by Patrick Dreux, the president of France Galop's south-eastern regional committee and a co-owner of Bob The King, a runner in the sixth race. 

In an extraordinary description furnished by the Marseille stewards, Dreux gained access to the car park using an access code before leading the party by lift up to the deserted panoramic restaurant. 

The rules adopted by France's racing and trotting authorities surrounding the staging of the sport behind closed doors specifically prevent owners from attending racecourses with the entourage allowed to accompany a horse to the track limited to the trainer and one member of stable staff. 

The stewards' report goes on to detail how racecourse president Jacques Rossi was alerted to their presence and expressed his astonishment that Dreux should be involved in the break-in.

The report quoted Dreux as telling Rossi: "The committee is worthless, and you shouldn't think that you are the only person who knows the access code."

Another co-owner of Bob The King, local restaurateur Christian Cimolai, was also among the party, all of whom have been fined €1,500.

Dreux's actions will be an acute embarrassment to French racing authorities but it is the presence of Niang that is guaranteed to generate unwanted media attention. 

The 25-year-old striker is currently with Ligue 1 side Rennes, having previously played for Caen and AC Milan, and he also spent a spell on loan with Watford.