The long-awaited return of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to Longchamp in 2018 went down like the proverbial flatulence in an elevator with British and Irish punters.
The reopened Paris track had promised much fanfare for their flagship race, but those in attendance were left disappointed by huge queues and minimal betting facilities.
And so France Galop, who are responsible for the meeting, have launched a charm offensive in an attempt to win back dissatisfied attendees.
Plans include greatly reduced ticket prices, more betting kiosks and a supposedly 100-metre long bar, which would temporarily be ‘the biggest pub in Paris’. There will be more toilet blocks too, as well as more catering options as organisers look to ramp up their offering.
Enable to Show the Best of British
There are plenty of good reasons for British racegoers to head over the Channel, with Enable – the incredible John Gosden horse – looking to make history by claiming a hat-trick of Arc titles. She would become the first horse in history to achieve three wins in the French showpiece.
A crowd of around 45,000 people is expected on the Sunday of the Arc this year to watch her effort, which is an increase of approximately 10,000 on the 2018 attendance. Last year France Galop told of how they were ‘caught out’ by the demand for tickets from British and Irish racegoers – attendances were down markedly during the race’s temporary two-year stint at Chantilly, and so they will surely be keen to provide better amenities this time around.
The 100m bar, which will be partnered with Guinness, will be erected beside the new grandstand in the garden area, and that will provide supreme views of the second winning post on the track, which is used for the meetings flagship 7f sprints including the Prix de la Foret.
There are also plans to keep the bars and catering outlets separate from the betting facilities, which will help to ease congestion and prevent those in the lower levels of the grandstand from getting an unimpaired view of the action out on the track.
It is believed that around 400 betting firms and operators will be allowed onto the site, from big brands to independent bookies. Organisers have promised that the number of mobile bookmakers operating on tablets only will be reduced to allow more space for official kiosks, enabling more punters to bet via the big screens and take advantage of moving odds.
As far as ticket prices are concerned, premium enclosures will remain at the same price as they were 12 months ago, but the cost of general admission has come down after France Galop were heavily criticised for the price hike a year ago. Admission with a grandstand ticket will cost in the region of €65 – a drop of €10, while to get into the Jardins de l’Arc – where that huge Guinness sponsored bar will be – you’ll have to part with a fair game €20 – again down €10 on last year.