France Galop remains hopeful of resuming racing behind closed doors in May.
French racing was staged without spectators last month before France Galop announced a suspension of meetings between March 17 and April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While French President Emmanuel Macron has extended the country’s lockdown until May 11, France Galop and LeTROT, which is the governing body of trotting racing, are “in discussion with the government authorities to explore the possibility of a return to racing behind closed doors as quickly as possible”.
A statement from France Galop said: “Before horse racing was suspended, the industry had shown its ability to organise meetings behind closed doors whilst maintaining an excellent level of risk prevention of spreading the virus.
“In the context of racing behind closed doors, access to the racecourse had been strictly limited to a minimum of professionals who are essential for the organisation of a race meeting.
“Also, since the beginning of the lockdown, training activities at the different training centres in Paris and in the provinces, have been carried out in the strictest conformity with the instructions and rules of social distancing.”
Funding for the sport is one issue that is under discussion, with PMU cafes, the main betting locations in the country, closed and unlikely to open when initial restrictions are lifted.
The statement continued: “According to the President’s latest speech, it is however understood that a return to horse racing in France will not mean that all the PMU betting points will be operational. Only a part of them (tobacco shops) will be operational, which means reduced revenues for the industry.
“The implications of this configuration are currently being examined and discussed with the public authorities. Next Tuesday, the presidents of the parent companies and of the PMU will meet with Didier Guillaume, the Minister for Agriculture and Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of Public action and Accounts.
“In the meantime, France Galop and LeTROT teams are finalising a racing program of major meetings for the month of May, from the date of the re-start, as decided in agreement with our supervisory authorities.
“This racing calendar will be published as soon as possible so that racing professionals can get their horses ready for when racing resumes.”