James Reveley, one of France’s leading National Hunt jockeys, has described the “depressing” situation in his adopted country after racing was cancelled for at least a month.
The decision was taken on Monday by the French authorities to stop all racing until April 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s quite depressing actually,” Reveley told Sky Sports Racing.
“It was a bit of a shock to the system when we found out yesterday – but we were half-expecting it, to be honest.
“Obviously, with the way the PMU system funds the racing over here, there was no real way it could keep going. We can keep the horses riding out, but we’ll sit and suffer for a month.
“All the PMUs are closed now, and people can’t place bets, so there’s no money going into racing.
“I’ve no idea how the industry will be supported by Government. I spoke to (trainer) Guillaume Macaire this morning, and he’s hoping all the racing just gets put back a month and all the horses will get the chances in the bigger races at least.
“If we aren’t riding we aren’t earning, and we can’t look after our families. It’s going to be a dry month.”
While the Cheltenham Festival did take place as usual last week, the Grand National has subsequently been cancelled – but Reveley is hoping the big spring races in France are rearranged for a later date.
“Come April 15 a lot of the prep races for the Grand Steep won’t have been run – so hopefully they’ll rearrange that race, because the French like to build up to the big meeting in May, and a lot won’t have been able to have prep runs,” he said.
“It’s gutting for everyone, but we’re all in the same boat.
“In France we very much rely on riding fees and mainly prize money – so as I said, it will be a dry month.
“I think confining everyone to their house will work, but the big problem is we are not allowed to get tested, so they’re at home not knowing if they have the virus or not.
“I would like to get tested, because I’ve been using public transport a lot recently – I could have the virus and not know it, and I don’t want to give it to the rest of my family.”