Racing at Champ de Mars

 

Champ de Mars and Signal mountain in the background
Champ de Mars with Signal mountain in the background and Port Louis city centre to the right

It was a real surprise to discover that one of the oldest horse race courses in the world is in Mauritius; who would have bet on that? Just on the edge of the city, the Mauritius Turf club was founded by the British in 1812. I was delighted to attend the last meeting of the year.

www.mauritiusturfclub.com

The Grandstand was packed well before the first race
The Grandstand was packed well before the first race

I got there early, was allocated a parking space next to the grandstand by two nice policemen who even asked me for betting tips. ‘Don’t bet on what I bet on’ was my advice. Then I realised that my ticket and members lounge access I had left at home.

Not much use on the table back at the house
Not much use on the table back at the house

‘They will let me in without that, ‘ I reassured myself, ‘Oops!’ I am sure Colonel Draper never had to show a pass.

Colonel Draper promoted thoroughbred horse racing on the course, even riding on some of his own horses!
Colonel Draper promoted thoroughbred horse racing on the course, even riding on some of his own horses!
The cleverly planted trees have grown well to keep everyone cool

You can bet down here, buy refreshments and watch the races on tv but if you go up one flight of stairs you can watch in style from here…

A grandstand view of the course on the left, drinks and food served from the back of the lounge and betting on the right. Perfect!

Yes, they did let me in. The staff could not have been more helpful and gave me a replacement badge.

Rules and traditions were well respected and fortunately I had not forgotten to wear a suit and tie because then I would definitely have had to watch from the stands!

Whilst studying the form and trying to look knowledgeable, I heard the Mauritius Police Band marching on to the course. I went for a look and listen.

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The excellent band played some highly unusual selections including ‘Mama Mia’, the theme from the film ‘Rocky’ and ‘Sex Bomb’

I returned, due to the heat and the need for liquid refreshment wondering what Mousse T and Tom Jones would have thought of the last song played.

Time to go and place my bet but it was slightly confusing, maybe it was the heat?

What on earth is a 'swinger'?
What on earth is a ‘swinger’?
The winning ticket? ‘Non!’ My horse was placed 6th
I would have understood this more if it had been upside down!

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Several more lost bets later, it was now time to go to the paddock and study up-to-the-minute form…and not just the fillies!

This stand was in front of the paddock where the horses were paraded before each race and it was absolutely packed!
This stand was in front of the paddock where the horses were paraded before each race and it was absolutely packed!

You could also look from here for the next winner.

Everyone was hot but the horses looked strangely cool ... even after their race
Everyone was hot but the horses looked strangely cool … even after their race
'Its behind you!' This jockey seems to have lost his horse.
‘Its behind you!’ This jockey seems to have lost his horse.

So I backed this one ‘Evergreen’.

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‘Come on, Number 7!’

It was a thrilling race…

In the Members' Lounge, the men were more interested in the racing than the ladies ... unless they won, of course.
In the Members’ Lounge, the men were more interested in the racing than the ladies … unless they won, of course.

…And Evergreen won! I didn’t do quite so well in the next race.

The one I backed is just out of the photograph ..  about half a kilometre to the right
The one I backed is just out of the photograph ..  about half a kilometre to the right

The sounds of music from a Bollywood film echoed loudly across the course so I went for a look.

You don't get this at Royal Ascot!
You don’t get this at Royal Ascot!

I wasn’t the only one looking for a tip.

The form and odds offered were keenly studied in all parts of the course
The form and odds offered were keenly studied in all parts of the course

I got back just in time for the next race and my second winner!

The one I backed is out of the photograph .. to the right
All the races were keenly contested

It was a great day, faultlessly put on by the Turf Club and I am thoroughly looking forward to next year already.

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