HQ – Newmarket, Suffolk, UK

This is a practical guide to horse racing tracks visited, reviewed from a practical and social viewpoint. It is not intended to be a technical guide to the characteristics of a given track. If you wish to learn about the nitty-gritty of individual track trends etc. you will find other sites more relevant to that objective.

It aims to advise on the optimum logistics of travelling to a new racecourse, where to eat, stay and other guidance on what to expect.

This blog will be a moving feast, with updates as new tracks visited and revisted.

If you wish to share any of your experiences and feedback, please leave a comment or email: amanda@short-call.com

Deauville, France

Where to start? – The beautiful resort where all the well-heeled Parisians retreat in the summer. Consequently, you need a fairly large wallet to stay here for any length of time! However, it is worth it. It’s a town filled with high-end shops and beach restaurants with cover charges, that will make most of us wince and that you would expect more in St. Tropez! As well as the beach and the picturesque racecourse, it is also home to a renowned Film Festival. If you take a walk along the boardwalk, you can see the beach huts with the names of the various luminaries that have graced the town in the past:

Getting there

It’s fairly challenging, as there are no direct flights anymore from London City to the local airport St. Gatien. Your best option is to fly to Paris and take the train from Paris St-Lazare. It generally takes just over 2 hours. The train station in Deauville could not be more central, so no taxis needed to reach your chosen lodgings.

Accommodation

Plenty of high-end options as you would expect, with the like of the Barriere hotels. I stayed in the more modest Mercure, which overlooks the port and is in close proximity to the train station. Deauville is extremely walkable (flat as well for those that could be physically impaired), so I wouldn’t get too hung-up on where your hotel is situated. A useful tip is that if you are really looking for budget accommodation, but still accessible to racecourse, would be to pick a hotel in Trouville, which I suppose is the slightly poorer relation to Deauville, but a 5-10 walk in the other direction away from the station.

Dining/drinks

Eating out can be fairly pricey, but if you look hard enough you will find good value. I ate at Le Cafe de Paris, which overlooks the central fountain. Perfectly acceptable, standard French fayre, waiters can be quite engaging in a good way.

Racecourse

Entrance to the course

It’s in the town, so again no need for transport of any kind.

It’s a really striking course with original Norman beamed buildings which give it a unique charm. Since I first went in 2006, they have built a new stand which supports the capacity requirements, during the summer festival. I previously went to the Prix Maurice Gheest which is at the start of August but in 2019, went to the Prix Jacques Le Marois.

Enclosures

As with all France Galop courses, admission is crazily cheap in comparison to the UK & Ireland. I paid €12 which gave me a seat in the grandstand and that was the most expensive option, aside from a hospitality package. And of course, free glossy racecard included!

There are ample drink stations, along with crepe, ice cream and all the usual snacks you find at racecourses.

What impressed me – even though I am not a parent, is that Deauville (like alot of French racecourses) – has an abundance of activities for children, which are not just confined to a bouncy castle.

General vibe

A kind of French country party, sofas and deckchairs scattered around the parade ring. Some people are casually dressed, others are dressed to the nines. Truly egalitarian!

Summary

You will have a fabulous experience – guaranteed. There are no operational flaws at Deauville. Depending on what day you choose to go, the quality of racing can be sublime.

Ken Condon, trainer of Romanised after winning the Prix Jacques Le Marois in 2019, for Ireland. Ridden by Billy Lee.