After several years of delays, it looks finally as if the City Racing project is finally about to get off the ground.
And while France is known for its racing at Longchamp and Chantilly, you might not expect to see horses charging around the streets of the resort town best known for its annual film festival.
But City Racing have confirmed that they have been given the go ahead to host a meeting in Cannes by France Galop, the sport’s authority in the country, and that April or May of 2021 have been pencilled in.
It will be an extraordinary sight to see horses charging around the French Riviera, and the plan is to lay down a special ‘drop in’ synthetic racetrack on the beach before the field will head for the finish line near to the headquarters of the Cannes Film Festival.
And the hope is that spectators will be allowed to catch the action first hand in line with France’s coronavirus protocol.
Johnno Spence, the spokesman for the City Racing project, said:
“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.
“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.”
Who are City Racing?
One of the issues facing horse racing is that many of its courses are found in rural and out-of-town locations – that will always be an issue in attracting new and casual spectators to the sport.
City Racing plan to tackle that by, quite literally, bringing horses and jockeys onto city streets, showcasing the sport to an urban audience who might not otherwise get to see racing in the flesh.
The brains behind the project include the Jockey Club and investment specialist New World Capital Advisers, while Andrews Bowen will be taken with supplying and laying the special synthetic/sand surface that would ensure that the health and wellbeing of the horses is maintained. The Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips, is also known to be backing the concept.
The idea has taken a long time to come to fruition. The original plans were to host the maiden meeting in Liverpool in 2019, however that fell through when the BHA failed to give it the nod in time.
City Racing’s ultimate ambition is to host a full six-race card in cities around the world, with eight runners per race over a 1,000m course – with the hope of attracting some big names both in terms of horses and jockeys to the competition. In the early going, local riders would saddle horses rated 0-90 – and based close to the host city – in handicap renewals.
The concept has already undergone two successful trials in Liverpool and Newmarket, and while there are still calls for investment the project is based upon funding from sponsors, ticket sales and corporate hospitality, with the hope of getting some bookmakers on board too.