City Racing: Cannes fixture to launch global series after France Galop backing

City Racing: Cannes fixture to launch global series after France Galop backing

Organisers of plans to run horse races in famous urban locations have told the BBC their first event is scheduled to go ahead in Cannes, France, next year.

A fixture in the spring of 2021 has been backed by governing body France Galop, said City Racing spokesman Johnno Spence.

Spectators could be allowed in line with French coronavirus protocols.

A special racing surface will be laid on the beach, with the finish line near the Cannes Film Festival headquarters.

“It is very exciting to get this backing for something we believe will bring a new audience for racing, in a similar way to Formula E in motorsport and Twenty20 cricket,” said Spence.

“Hopefully a second event can be held later in 2021 as we build to a global series.

“Talks have been taking place with cities in Europe, the United States and Middle East.”

Plans for horse racing along city streets as part of an international series were first mooted in 2014 by the City Racing group, which has the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips as a key backer.

It had hoped to run a fixture in Liverpool last year but failed to secure approval in time from the British Horseracing Authority.

Spence said the French event had permission to be held in October 2020 but has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and will take place next April or May, dependent on other racing fixtures.

The finish line at Cannes would be near the Palais des Festivals

City Racing is a joint venture supported by investment firm New World Capital Advisors, track supplier Andrews Bowen and the Jockey Club.

The aim is to stage fixtures which have six Flat races, with eight runners each over a five-furlong (1,000m) straight course in some of the world’s most famous cities with the best international jockeys competing.

A special synthetic surface would be laid, topped with a thick layer of sand and able to withstand the weight of thoroughbreds racing at speed.

It was trialled in 2018 with three demonstration races on a road through the centre of Aintree racecourse, home of the Grand National, with another successful trial at Newmarket.

Eight renowned jockeys, plus reserves, would be lined up to ride locally based horses in ‘handicap’ races involving horses rated 0-90 – so the horses would not be at the top level, but they would need to fit criteria around their suitability.

Jockeys would accumulate points based on their finishing positions, and the rider with the highest total would be the event winner.

Funding would come from sponsors, ticketing and hospitality, with betting available on all the races.

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