France Galop vow to improve Arc experience
Last Updated: 15/07/19 4:29pm
Officials at France Galop have taken steps to ensure the criticism from racegoers which followed last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe meeting will not be repeated.
Many who attended the redeveloped ParisLongchamp track cited problems in getting food and drink, being unable to place bets and found a lack of toilet facilities.
Having been closed for two years while the new facility was built, those in charge insist lessons have been learned.
"The Arc wouldn't be the Arc without the English and Irish participation," said Olivier Delloye, director general of France Galop.
"We look forward to having Enable back again this year as she attempts to win a third Arc, but it is not just on the track - up to 40 per cent of the attendance is made up of visitors from England and Ireland.
"It is very important for us to maintain that as they bring the atmosphere into the weekend. We know the attraction of the Arc weekend owes a lot to the English and Irish participation.
"The first edition of the Arc at ParisLongchamp didn't meet racegoers' expectations. It is not unusual for a newly-revamped racecourse to have problems on a big occasion. We blame ourselves, but we are not the first to experience disappointment.
"We were sad people left the racecourse disappointed and we are keen to do better this year. The second year is going smoothly, we have improved a number of things and people feel much more at home."
Among the improvements is an increase of 60 per cent on the number of pop-up restaurants after complaints of long queues, a total of 17 new bars will be in situ with an additional 50 beer pumps and a lawn area just after the winning post, known as the Pelouse de l'Arc, will be the site of the biggest temporary pub in the Parisian region.
There will be 400 outlets taking bets - a 25 per cent increase on last year - while the number of toilet facilities will rise by 30 per cent also.
Ticket prices have been reduced too - admissions which last year cost 75 and 45 euros respectively have had 10 euros knocked off, while entry to the centre of the course is as little as 10 euros, a reduction of five euros.
"We had more than 30 meetings before the Arc, but the Arc is the Arc and our biggest mistake was forgetting how much more the English and Irish like to bet and drink, not as many went to Chantilly the two years it was there," said Delloye.
"We recognised how disappointed people were and apologised at the time. We want to improve their experience. We now run successful Thursday night meetings with entertainment and get up to 9,000 people and we have been coping well with that.
"The French crowd which comes that day are not really racing fans, they were quite happy with what they found, but they don't bet and drink quite as much, so they don't depend on the services as much.
"We hope that those who came last year come back again and with Enable going for a third Arc, it could be special. Now we just need to find some French horses to take her on!"