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Katherine Ford: My favourite French racecourses



1. Auteuil


This is where it all started for me, as it was the first place I worked in France, when I was with the International Racing Bureau. As a twenty-something-year-old, finding myself there with a job was a dream come true, and it's still a special place for me. The Grand Steeplechase de Paris is a great trip for British tourists, and I don't think people realise that Auteuil is just off the Péripherique, so you watch the race with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the background.



2. Deauville


When I drive into Deauville, I feel like I'm driving into a fairytale village, and there's such a great atmosphere there during the long August meeting. I don't have quite the same youth as I once did, so I can't party all month anymore! But there's always something going on, and it's a perfect setting: right on the beach. Deauville's neighbouring racecourse, Clairefontaine, is one we don't talk about as much, but it's also well worth a visit. They have flat, jumps and a bit of trotting, often on corresponding days to the action at Deauville.





3. Chantilly


Chantilly is the home of French racing, and hosts two big races: the Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix de Diane. The Diane is a particularly good day out, as France Galop lay on plenty of activities for Parisians and their families. I currently live just ten miles south of Chantilly, with easy access to central Paris and the airport. Airport access is important as, alongside duties for Sky Sports here, I still cover major British race days for the French racing channel, Equidia.



4. Lion d'Angers


This course is slightly off the beaten track. But, like Caen (another of my favourites), it holds a flagship cross country meeting each year. That event draws a huge crowd, along with occasional British visitors. France has a very good breeding industry, particularly when it comes to jump horses, and there are plenty of opportunities to get a first glimpse of jump horses who'll travel on to the UK.



5. Longchamp


I saved this one until last! I've been fortunate to travel to the world's biggest meetings, but there's nothing like the Arc weekend (and make sure you go on Saturday too, as the quality of racing has really improved). This is France's showpiece, set in a great location. It should be on the bucket list of any racing fan. Some of the most memorable moments of my time in the French racing world have been here, with Treve's two victories, Zarkava's in 2008 and, of course, Alpinista's this year.

 

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