Total shutdown: all racing in France cancelled until at least April 15

France has become the first major racing nation to suspend the sport after an extraordinary meeting between France Galop and Le Trot. 

All meetings have been cancelled from Tuesday until April 15, a period that covers a key section of Classic trials on the Flat as well as several prep races for the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. 

The two governing bodies convened a special session of their two administrative councils on Monday, just 72 hours after moving all racing behind closed doors.

The suspension comes against a background of emergency meetings between the government of President Emmanuel Macron with health and defence chiefs, with further measures to limit the movement of people under discussion. 

Key dates to be lost

Sat 28 March Prix Edmond Blanc, Saint-Cloud
Sat 4 April Prix Murat, Auteuil
Sun 5 April Prix d'Harcourt, Longchamp
Tue 7 April Prix Djebel / Imprudence, Deauville
Sun 12 April Prix de Fontainebleau / La Grotte, Longchamp
Mon 13 April Prix Sigy, Chantilly

Edouard de Rothschild, president of France Galop, and Le Trot's Jean-Pierre Barjon said in a joint statement: "Our absolute priority is the health of all people involved in racing and respect for the directives of the state.

"In suspending all racing, we want above all to protect them from the current pandemic. In taking this decision the horse industry also shows its solidarity with the entire nation.

"We are fully aware of the economic consequences of cancelling racing. That is why we have decided to call for feedback from racing businesses to the governing bodies. That will be the first step in our efforts to safeguard the racing economy.

"We are living in exceptional times, and this is an unprecedentedly serious situation. We know we can count on everyone to contribute in the effort to end this pandemic as quickly as possible. You can also count on our effort and determination. Nobody will be abandoned."

Germany and Jersey call off meetings

Similar emergency discussions took place across Europe on Monday.

Less than two hours after the French decision, Germany's Direktorium suspended all racing until after Easter weekend, meaning a blank fixture list until April 18.

The country's governing body committed to weekly video media conferences to update the situation and said it would work on an adapted and condensed fixture list for any resumption, potentially behind closed doors. 

Belgium and Italy – the European country hit hardest by coronavirus to date – also called a halt to racing on Monday, while Jersey has been forced to abandon its traditional season opener at Les Landes on Easter Monday (April 13).

Jersey Race Club president Mark Johnson said: "Many people involved in horse racing on Jersey travel over for the meetings from
the UK – including most of our jockeys, our medical officer and other officials – so as the highest attended spectator sport on the island we have a duty to consider the wellbeing of local residents and visitors alike.

"As Jersey Racing does not have off-course betting, unlike in the UK, it is not possible financially for racing here to be conducted behind closed doors with no spectators. Quite simply that was never an option for us."

A decision about the meeting scheduled for Monday, May 10 will be taken once the States of Jersey make a wider determination on planned celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the island's liberation.