Horse Racing in Mauritius
December 14 2018
December 14 2018
The gorgeous tropical island nation of Mauritius is known for many things—from its unique culture and gorgeous lush surrounds, to its array of superb luxury accommodation and a plethora of island activities, it’s a stellar holiday destination for any kind of traveller. It’s understandable then, that horse racing in Mauritius wouldn't be one of the first things you might think of when it comes to things to do in this magical haven.
It might surprise you to hear that horse racing in Mauritius actually dates far back—to 1812—when the Mauritius Turf Club opened the incredible Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis. While this racecourse is the only one on the island, it’s the second oldest horse racing course in the world and the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. To this day, major events are well attended at this racecourse, with crowds coming out to support in the thousands (often the events are attended by 20 000 to 30 000 people, and sometimes more). Unbeknownst to many, this equestrian sport is said to be the most popular sport on the island.
Horse racing in Mauritius has incredible tradition, history and immense excitement at its core. At this point, it probably goes without saying that by far one of the nation’s favourite things to do is attend the major horse racing events in Mauritius.
If you fancy a day at the tracks unlike any other while holidaying in this ever-surprising paradise, this is what you need to know about horse racing in Mauritius at the Champ de Mars Racecourse:
The Maiden Cup is a must-experience event
While there are a number of horse racing events throughout the year, the most loved, and most important, event of them all, is undoubtedly the Maiden Cup. This extraordinary event typically takes place on a Sunday at the beginning of September each year and is run over a distance of 2400 metres. Seen as practically a cultural sporting event to many locals, this race is well worth attending for a unique Mauritian experience.
You can try your hand at betting
Experience the thrill of betting alongside some of the locals during one of the major horse racing events in Mauritius (who knows, you may get lucky!). While this is encouraged solely as a little spot of fun (and it’s important not to get carried away), part of the enjoyment at any of these events for many is setting your heart on a specific horse and hoping to win some of your rupees back.
You might want to dress the part
There’s no doubt that horse racing in Mauritius is taken seriously. Which is why to fit in with the other spectators, you might want to consider dressing up for the occasion. While ‘smart casual’ is the recommended dress code, you’ll find that many of the gentlemen wear their finest suits and ladies look stunning in their best dresses and, oftentimes elaborate, hats.
Both Classic and Semi-classic races take place during the racing season
You can expect to find both Classic and Semi-classic races at Champe de Mars Racecourse throughout the season (usually four of each), with a number of other events and meetings that have been added over the years. The racing season, which begins late March and runs until the first weekend of December, opens with the Duchess of York Cup. This race centres on horses that have recently been imported from countries such as South Africa, the UK, France and Australia. Each race typically sees 8 horses compete (on average), with up to 60 horses participating in a full race day.
The horse racing season in Mauritius ends with the International Jockeys’ weekend, where riders come to Mauritius from around the world. This two-day event consists of over 14 races, with riders split into four teams—Mauritius, Europe, Former Champions and the Rest of the World. This event is totally unmissable and fabulously festive with a sea of spectators who don their finest attire.
The Champ de Mars Racecourse is on the small side
Besides its status of fabled horse racing arena, the Champ de Mars track is actually quite small, with a circumference of 1298 metres. Races here tend to be anything from 1000 metres in distance to 2400 metres. Over the years, since its opening all the way back in 1812, the course has undergone some improvements, to ensure that the conditions are at their best for the horses.
You can enjoy the races as a VIP
Seeing as horse racing is definitely one of the best things to do in Mauritius, why not go “all out” and treat yourself to a VIP experience? The Crown Lodge, once a racing stewards’ private box, is today a stunning and exclusive suite from which to enjoy the thrilling spectacle of horse racing in Mauritius. Indulge in a luxury VIP experience with a stellar package that typically includes an open bar, snacks, prime viewing of the finish line and the opportunity to meet jockeys, trainers, horse owners and even the president of the Mauritius Turf Club.
There’s no doubt about it, however, you decide to experience the horse racing in Mauritius, with incredible crowds and the electrifying energy at the course, it’s bound to be an unforgettable experience.