Horse racing was introduced to Mauritius in 1812 by British army colonel Edward Alured Draper in an attempt to earn the co-operation of the French population still uncomfortable under British rule. He believed that this goal could be attained if both parties were brought together in an atmosphere of leisure to forget their traditional rivalry.
The idea worked wonderfully as the Mauritius Turf Club was founded and its first racemeeting was organised at Le Champ de Mars racecourse in Port Louis, the capital, on the 25th of June 1812 with the backing of the Governor Sir Robert Farquhar.
The Champ de Mars racecourse is a circular right hand turf track of 1300 metres in circumference. It is relatively small but offers good viewing to the 15 000 or plus spectators each week. The track is 12 to 14 metres wide and can accommodate a maximum field of eleven runners. The home straight is 225 metres long and extremely competitive due to the rise in the ground going to the winning post. Races are run from 1365 metres to 2400 metres.
The racehorse population reaches, early in the season, a peak of 360 individuals under the care of 15 trainers. There have been two previous unsuccessful attempts to breed racehorses on the island and Mauritian owners have no choice than to import on a regular basis their runners from abroad. South Africa constitutes their main market due to its proximity and similarity in climatic conditions. Every year about 100 racehorses are flown over from Johannesburg and reach the island only four hours later. Most imports are geldings aged from 3 to 5 years old.
There are two main training centres in Mauritius. Firstly the Champ de Mars racetrack can accommodate 160 horses and opens its sand tracks as early as 5 am for trackwork. Secondly, 150 boxes are available at the Guy Desmarais Training Centre at Floreal whose location on the high plateau allows for a cooler climate and therefore shorter recover periods for racehorses in general. Both training centres are run by the Mauritius Turf Club. Smaller private training centres are located on the beaches around the island.
The racing season in Mauritius stretches fromApril to December and is carried out under the Rules of racing of the Mauritius Turf Club which is a founder member of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities. There are at present31 racemeetings in a year, approved by Government. Four classics, with Listed race status, and an International Jockey’s Day constitute the highlights of the season.
About 95% of the races in Mauritius are handicaps and horses are classified in divisions as soon as they set foot on the island. The merit rating obtained in the country of origin shall determine the division.
Being a non-profit organisation, the Mauritius Turf Club reinvests all revenues into racing and offers subsidies to stables to meet their expenses. In2006, prizemoney levels reached Rs 22 million while subsidies totalled Rs 26 million. The cost to keep a horse in training averages Rs 15000 monthly.
The majority of jockeys riding in Mauritius are foreign professionals, originating mainly from South Africa,. Mauritius also has local jockeys and apprentices who benefit from about 30% of the mounts during a season.
Mauritian racegoers enjoy punting and flock in huge numbers to the racecourse as soon as the betting market is open two days before a racemeeting. Bookmakers provided the service at first and the only type of bet was Win. Their number grew steadily from just four in the later 1940’s to 125 in 1980 before slimming down to 50 in 2007.
In the 1950’s, the Club started the Pari Mutuel, a manual totalisator, that offered various types of bets. However the low pay-outs did not ensure a long lifetime to the system and in the 1970’s, the Pari Mutuel disappeared. A fresh and stronger attempt to offer racegoers various types of bets was made in 1991 when a new public company introduced the TOTE in Mauritius using modern computer facilities. Since then the TOTE has increased steadily its popularity among racegoers with its latest annual turnover reaching 630 million rupees.
Racing receives probably the widest media coverage of all sports in Mauritius. There are 4 specialised racing magazines while sixteen local newspapers have columns reserved for racing information. The national TV broadcasts racing live every Saturday and Tellytrack also broadcasts mauritian racing live in South Africa. The Mauritius Turf Club pays a special attention to the welfare of racehorses that have retired from the competition. In the 1950’s, the Club has thus contributed to the setting up of a riding school on the grounds of its training centre at Floreal. This riding club now operates with some ninety show jumpers, mostly thoroughbreds, and is run by an independent committee. In addition to this, the retired horses are also entrusted to other smaller riding clubs, some beach hotels and some private owners. To date, there is a population of about 300 retired racehorses on the island.
Name of Racing Authority: The Mauritius Turf Club
Postal Address: Champ de Mars Racecourse, Eugene Laurent Street, Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: (230)212 2212 / 208 6047 Fax: (230)208 3211 2114050
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org WebSite: www.mauritiusturfclub.com
Chairman: Mr Gilbert Merven
Mr William Chung, Mr Mukesh Balgobin, Mr Gavin Glover, Mr Jeenarain Soobagrah, Mr Paul France Tennant
Secretary & General Manager: Mr Benoît Halbwachs
Chief Stipendiary Steward: Mr Ian Patterson as from January 2008
Communications & Marketing Manager: Mr Shan Ip Ting Wah
Finance & Administrative Manager: Mr Philippe Blackburn
Chief Chemist: Mr Bertrand Baudot
Racing Manager: Mr Khalid Rawat
Contact for Overseas Liaison / Information: Mr Khalid Rawat or Mr Benoît Halbwachs
|Racing Season||From April To December|
|Number of Racecourses||1|
|Number of Fixtures||31 (2007)|
|Number of Races||246 (2007)|
|Number of Runners||2173 (2001)|
|Number of Horses in Training||386|
|Number of Trainers||15|
|Number of Jockeys||51|
|Number of Owners||150|
|1.Duchess of York Cup||Listed||May||440,000||Champ de Mars|
|2.Barbe Cup||Listed||July||545,000||Champ de Mars|
|3.Maiden Cup||Listed||Sep||775,000||Champ de Mars|
|4.Duke of York Cup||Listed||Nov||615,000||Champ de Mars|
|Name of Festival/Meeting||Date||Racecourse|
|International Jockeys' Day||8 December||Champ de Mars|
Total Prizemoney (Local Currency - Mauritian Rupees)
22,448,000 - Provided by Racing Authorities
1,277,000 - Provided by Sponsors Contributions
Average Prizemoney Per Race (Total) 157,225
Average Prizemoney Per Race (Flat)
Exchange Rate to US$: Approx Rs 30
|Betting||Totalizator||Yes||Off Course||Yes (Telephone only)|
Total Betting Turnover / Year (2001)
On Course Tote: Rs 1.6 billion
Off-course: 5.2 million
Principal Bet Types: Win, Place, Dupla, Quinpot, Trifecta, Exacta, Double, Pick 4, Pick 6, Quartet, Double Trifecta
Government - Betting Duty 10%, Winning Tax 2%
Retained by Authority - Simple Bets (Tote) 14%, Exotic Bets (Tote) 16%, Bookmakers - fixed sum per race meeting.
Total number of stud farms: 1 (1st year of operation)
Number of foal births: 1 in 2001