Historically important and a focal point of the community, the Champ de Mars course at the Mauritius Turf Club has held races since 1812. The track's small, being just 1298m in circumference and 12 to 14m wide. Its small size makes it a very competitive course. The Mauritius Turf Club was founded to help build relationships between the French settlers and the English, who had conquered the island in 1810. Champ de Mars racecourse is the oldest in the southern hemisphere and one of the oldest in the world. Due to the small size of the track, races are run on distances from 990m to 2400m. The track has received constant improvement since 1812 to offer horses a better galloping surface. There's a maximum of 11 horses allowed on the track at any one time to keep both riders and horses safe.
The StablesThe development of the stables began in the 19th century. This was for better control over the movement of the horses from Port Louis to the turf club. Mauritius is home to the Gudjadhur stable. The oldest on the island, this stable has been in existence for over a century and continues to produce many winners to this day. From the mid-1980s, there were eight to ten stables in competition, and today there are around 400 thoroughbreds competing during the season. The Mauritius Turf Club cotes are listed in full, under each trainer, on their website. There are currently 15 trainers who are part of the Mauritius Turf Club program. At the end of their racing careers, horses are transferred to riding schools.
Classic race seriesIf you're here from March until December you can indulge in the sport of Kings whenever you want, as the Mauritius turf club programme is full. There are fixtures every Saturday and these include The Duchess of York Cup, The Barbe Cup, The Maiden Cup, The Duke of York Cup, and the International Jockey's weekend on the last weekend of the season. These races are an important part of Mauritius turf club results today.
The Duchess of York CupFirst run in 1927 for the visit of their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, who later become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This race now marks the start of the equestrian season. Before 1927 this event was known as the Mauritius Jockey Club Plate. The award's presented by the Mauritius Jockey Club to the winner of the club plate, and is reserved for newly imported horses.
The Barbe CupThis race was created in 1902 in honour of Laurent Alphonse Barbe. Barbe had been the secretary to the Mauritius Turf Club from 1867 until his death in 1893. The gold cup which is presented to the winner was donated to the club in 1956 by Henri Giblot Ducray.
The Maiden CupThis is always an exciting race, as the winner of this race cannot have won a race in Mauritius before. Records from the turf club date back to 1843. The race has changed over the years. Between 1843 and 1950 the cup was two laps of the Champ de Mars (12 furlongs and 190 yards). From 1951 to 1961 it changed to 13 furlongs. From 1961 until 1983 it returned to the original distances. In 1983 until today it's now run on the classic distance of 2400m.
The Duke of York CupThe fourth classic race of the season, it's also known as the Golden Cup. Traditionally run over a mile, the Golden Cup has become known for being the championship in this category. Since the introduction of the metric system to Mauritius in 1982, the speed record for 1600m has been broken three times. Originally a handicap race, the conditions were modified in 1955 to make it a real classic with the introduction of weight-for-age conditions. Whether you're a committed race lover or it's your first time having a ”flutter on the gee-gees', this is a race to watch if you want the chance to see jockeys and horses make history on the course.