In the year of 1810, shortly after Mauritius had fallen into the hands of the British, a peace-seeking English Colonel by the name of Draper came up with an unusual idea. Aiming to pacify the hostile French population, who had been defeated but still kept up a rather rebellious attitude, the inventive Mister Draper yearned to organise horse races as a means to cease animosities between the descendants of two countries who had long been rivals and fought many wars. His idea fell on fertile grounds and was immediately accepted by island governor Sir Robert Farquhar. And so just 2 years later, in 1812, the Mauritius Turf Club saw its founding day. Not long thereafter, the Champ de Mars racecourse was inaugurated and a new era began on this tropical island, as Mister Drapers' idea was indeed very well received and has added excitement to island life ever since.
The Portrait of Colonel Edward Alured Draper
Horse Racing At Champs de Mars Mauritius
|Just like their jockeys, racehorses come to Mauritius from many countries. Being imported mainly from England back in 1836, the vast majority of thoroughbreds today come from South Africa, but some are brought in from countries like Australia, France or even Italy. While in the beginning, all horses were imported by the Turf Club, stables nowadays have their own connections to stables abroad and usually import their future champions a few months before the start of season. There are currently around 350 race horses on the island. After retirement, they are placed in stables around the island, some of them in hotels, or given to private owners for a fee by the Race Horse Committee. The latter has been set up after the unusually cruel killing of former champion Mythical Man, who was filmed bleeding to death as his former owners watched on. The culprits are now in prison and the Race Horse Committee makes sure that all ex-race horses are placed in suitable facilities and well taken care of by their new owners.|
Due to the tropical climate, the racing season in Mauritius is limited and only lasts from May to the beginning of December. It features four classic and six semi-classic races with the most popular being “The Maiden Cup,” which is run over 2400 metres and The Gold Cup, run over just 1600 metres. The first race of each season, the Duchess of York Cup, takes place on each opening day and is run by the newly imported horses only.
The rising popularity of horse racing draws large crowds to Champ de Mars, up to the 50,000 spectators have been counted in the past and to accommodate them in the future, an expansion project of the Champ de Mars racecourse is currently contemplated.
Featuring not only horses, but also outrageous fashion and a cheering, multicultural crowd, a day at Champs de Mars can be an adventure even for those who are not into horse betting at all.
Public Bench At Champ De Mars Mauritius
Mauritius Horse Racing
One Saturday afternoon, our calm, quiet and very polite neighbour turned berserk! Exchanging shocked glances, we tried to hear exactly what the exclamations coming through his living room window could mean. The shouting started out as a murmur, steadily intensifying; then turning into rhythmic yelling and finally he roared like a lion.