Longchamp to open on schedule

Longchamp is reportedly on schedule

Longchamp officials are "confident" the historic French track is on schedule to reopen next spring.

The iconic Parisian circuit has been closed since the 2015 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as the course undergoes a dramatic 131million euro redevelopment which has been funded by French racing authority France Galop.

There is still much work to do, but no problems are anticipated ahead of the official reopening on April 8.

Longchamp could even stage a 'mock' meeting in March to test the new facilities in a raceday environment.

France Galop head of marketing Fabrice Favetto Bon said: "The construction company will give us the keys in mid-November and then it is for France Galop to conduct a certain amount of work.

"I am confident we will be ready."

Perhaps the most significant change is the name of the racecourse, which will be known as ParisLongchamp.

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Favetto Bon added: "This new title will now be permanently linked with Paris.

"Our ambition is to make ParisLongchamp a place for live events, leisure and culture – open to everyone, every day."

A fundamental challenge of ParisLongchamp is to "respond to the challenges of modernity", while at the same time preserving the track's heritage, with racing having been staged at the course since 1857.

Four levels of covered grandstands should be fit for purpose by next April, with 16 suites, 48 private boxes and two restaurants amongst the big projects in construction.

There will also be a temporary grandstand on Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe weekend, with scope to add a roof if the weather is expected to be bad.

The track itself has been reseeded with high-grade turf, while improvements have also made to the drainage on parts of the track.

But ParisLongchamp could even have a second course by 2019 as tentative blueprints have been drawn up to install an all-weather circuit – though costing and environmental issues could prove major stumbling blocks.

France Galop head of racing Francois Boulard added that the first official meeting on April 8 would be "special", and is considering an extension of the ParisLongchamp racing programme.

He said: "All the big races – Group Ones, Twos and Threes – will, of course, be back, but there will be a possibility of increasing the calendar by five or six meetings.

"There might also be the option of having five of evening meetings in May or June."

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