Last time I was at Longchamp, Golden Horn won the Arc. It was October 2015. Two and a half years later we were back, for L’Inauguration – the official opening of the new facilities.
Fitting that having won the big race on the last day, Golden Horn’s connections easily won today’s richly endowed big race, the Prix Ganay with one of our current superstar flat horses Cracksman.
Actually I thought it was an unsatisfactory race. While Cracksman was a very easy winner it seemed to me that the other ‘big’ horses, in particular Cloth of Stars, just didn’t turn up. So much so that the pacemaker Wren’s Day held on for second. For Cracksman, it can’t be too bad if you only have to have little more than an exercise gallop to win €600,000.
But what of the new ParisLongchamp?
I thought they’ve done a super job. The first thing you see as you approach through the Bois de Boulogne is this strange colour in the distance. Whether gold or bronze or French mustard the new stand is boldly making a statement from afar.
Once you’re in it felt like there was a little less space to move around in front of the stands but that it was easier to move around behind the stands, and in particular to get to the apparently smaller parade ring. Arc day will be interesting. Let’s see whether they cap the capacity for the big day.
It was, maybe not unexpectedly a bit confusing in terms of where you could go and couldn’t go. I believe that much of the facilities were being used for hospitality today so plenty of questions unanswered in terms of other bars, different food options, vantage points etc. When you know a track inside out, like the old Longchamp, then you know where to go and how to move around. This will come.
We found the Salon Treve very much to our liking and spent most of the afternoon sitting there drinking a very agreeable rose wine. And the winners helped too, especially in the two early handicaps most particularly with the wonderfully named Troizilet winning at 17-1 ridden by my new favourite French jockey Theo Bachelot (who rode a nice double).
What hadn’t changed (at least not noticeably) was the track itself, with the run down through the false straight into the long, wide and inviting home straight with both its winning posts.
So thumbs up from me. I must say that the gleaming Longchamp is now in sharp contrast to the fading Auteuil where we went yesterday. Yet I look forward to returning to both – though it probably won’t be until October and Arc weekend before I’m back. While I have no doubt that will be brilliant there is plenty to look forward to first.