Mauritius is renowned all over the world for its beautiful beaches and its popularity as a tropical tourist haven, but there is so much more to the island than just its beaches and its shimmering coral lagoons. While most travellers today know of Mauritius' history of colonisation and the country's tryst with and renunciation from slavery (which forms an important aspect of the country's tourism), not many people are aware of a very niche subset of the tourist industry that Mauritius is very proud of ? Horse Racing. Ever since the colonial era, Horse Racing has been a prevalent sport with people from various walks of life, and the frenetic, vigorous atmosphere that you get to experience at a racecourse cannot compare to any other feeling in the world. Mauritius proudly boasts of being home to the second oldest racecourse in the world ? the Champ de Mars Race Course.
The Frenzy of Horseracing at its Finest
Founded in the 1800s, the Champ de Mars Race Course in Port Louis stands as the second oldest racecourse in the entire world and has been witness to a historic moment for the country, with the declaration of independence being proclaimed right here in the racecourse in 1968. Before it was converted to a racecourse, the Champ de Mars was initially used as a training area by the French military. After the British took over control of the island from the French, the racecourse was constructed with an aim to encourage diverse cultural activities on the island.
The racing season in Champ de Mars starts from April and continues till around the last week of November, with most races generally being scheduled on weekends. The highlight of the entire racing season is the Maiden Cup, which takes place in September, and is the most significant racing event in all of Mauritius. The Champ de Mars Race Course has an infrastructure that can rival some of the top racecourses across the globe, with the parade ring behind the grandstand being a sight for sore eyes.
The Champ de Mars Race Course is managed and maintained by the Mauritius Turf Club, who not only decide the dates and timings of the races but the dress code for events as well. There are a variety of seating arrangements offered to visitors, including the grandstand, a plethora of seated galleries, as well as VIP rooms which are available only to members of the Mauritius Turf Club, and their family and relatives. Visitors are allowed to enter the grounds on days when there are no races as well, but there isn’t much to see apart from the parade ring and the actual racing track. On the days that competitions are held, there are a vast number of food and beverage stalls set up at various locations all over the premises, and you can enjoy a passionate race while savouring traditional Mauritian snacks and sipping on a chilled glass of beer.