Understand the races

The Main Events

The most prestigious horse races have Group 1 status.
Every year, France Galop organises 27 Group 1 races on the flat and 9 Group 1 races over jumps.

On the flat

How the start is organised, at which places, why are they not always in the same place, the distances...

Three major events punctuate the flat racing season.

First of all comes the classic spring for 3-year-olds, from May to July, with the Emirates Poules d’Essai championships, held over the mile distance in early May, then the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix de Diane Longines, held at Chantilly over a mile and 2 ½ furlongs the following month. The third and final event of the classic season is the Grand Prix de Paris (for 3-year-olds, over a mile and a half), held at ParisLongchamp on 14th July. After this, the best 3-year-olds must race against their elders.

In the summer, the Deauville meeting dominates the racing calendar. The Darley Prix Morny is the first big test for 2-year-olds and is generally held around the same time as the yearling sales. The Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard - Jacques Le Marois, held on the weekend of 15th August, is probably one of the best races in the world over the mile distance. Three other Group 1 races are scheduled during this intense month-long meeting. 

Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
The finish of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2015, at ParisLongchamp.

The Grand Prix season is rounded off with the major races of the autumn, held in September and October, namely the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend (first Sunday in October), preceded by its trials three weeks earlier.

Over the jumps

All of the Group 1 races over jumps are held at Auteuil, in the spring and autumn.

In the spring, from March to July, the best horses in each speciality and in the three main age brackets (3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds and over) measure up to one another and gradually increase their strength. The main events take place on the second-to-last Sunday in May with the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, and the second Sunday in June with the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil. In summer, a number of jumps racecourses open across France, but the top horses rarely race there.  

In the autumn, the 48H de l’Obstacle weekend, held in early November at Auteuil, punctuates the season for the country’s top jumps horses, with the equivalent of the Grand Steeple (Prix La Haye Jousselin) and the Grande Course de Haies d’Automne. The best jumps horses then head to Cagnes and Pau for the winter.

Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris
The winner of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris 2015 soars over the Rivière des Tribunes.