The Champ des mars

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The Champ de Mars Mauritius racecourse is nestled at the foot of lovely hills. It is the oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest in the world.

After his retirement from British Army as Colonel, Edward Draper enthusiastically arrived and founded the Mauritius Turf Club and initiated the first  horse racing at the Champ de Mars, racing his own thoroughbreds, often riding them in competition, to the point that he became known as the “Father” of the Mauritius Turf Club.The Racecourse was inaugurated on 25 June 1812, by Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, who was the first British Governor of Mauritius

The aim of the founders of the Mauritius Turf Club to set up horse racing at the Champ de Mars was to reconcile the French settlers with the English administration who had conquered the island in December 1810. The Champ de Mars area was a military training ground for French troops.

Within its premises stands a statue of King Edward VII by the sculptor Prosper d’Épinay, and the Malartic Tomb, an obelisk to a French governor.

They were convinced that the convivial atmosphere of horse racing would foster unity between the two communities and ensure social peace and harmony after years of fighting in the Indian Ocean. The new Governor, Sir Robert Farquhar and his wife of French origin, Maria Lautour, actively supported the organization of horse racing, the latter offering the first gold cup after the Club’s history to mark the occasion.

When Mauritius gained independence on 12 March 1968, the event including the flag hoisting ceremony was held here.

The attendance record at the Champ de Mars was set in 1984 when more than 100,000 people turned up at the Maiden Cup, the most prestigious race in the Mauritian racing calendar. Nippy Regen, owned by the Gujadhur stable, won the race and was ridden by Adrian Walkinshaw.

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