Visit at the world's second oldest horse racing track: Champ de Mars at l'lie Maurice
Sat 21 Oct 2017 11:27
Swadeck, one of the locals we met in the beginning of our Mauritius stay, works as a camera man at the “Champ de Mars”, being the World’s 2nd oldest horse racing courses. Every Saturday they held horse races, altogethe races during the whole day.
CHAMPS DE MARS
The Champ de Mars Racecourse is a thoroughbred race track in Port Louis. The Racecourse was inaugurated on 25 June 1812, by The Mauritius Turf Club (MTC) which was founded earlier in the same year by Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, who was the first British Governor of Mauritius. The Mauritius Turf Club is the oldest horse-racing club in the Southern Hemisphere and the second oldest in the world. When Mauritius gained independence on 12 March 1968, the event including the flag hoisting ceremony was held here. Since then and for many years, the racecourse has seen the annual celebration of the accession to independence.
Today, the Champ de Mars attracts tens of thousands of people on each racing day during the racing season from late March to early December and has become the ultimate meeting place for racing fanatics from all over the island and even from abroad. The track has also played a fundamental role in propelling horse racing as the most popular sport and form of entertainment among the local population.
Swadeck had kindly arranged for us to come and visit Champ de Mars for the whole day and to be able to sit in the best lodges. For this we needed to be properly dressed: long trousers and shirt for men, dress and hat for ladies. We went together with Nicole and Armin from Ashia together with their daughter. We also met Dietmar and Emma from Cesarina. Emma was beautiful in her hat, however Dietmar wore a pair of shorts and was not let in. They both had to stay outside ;-(.
We bought our tickets and were let in with a special escort to the lodges upstairs, where there were guards watching properly who was aloud to be let in or not.
Swadeck welcomed us with open arms...
… and together with his colleague (blue shirt), they made sure we spent the best day ever at the Champ de Mars. And wow did we feel vipped? We could hardly believe we were experiencing one of the most typical Mauritian activity, as a true Mauritian. We felt like kings and queens being shown all the VIP corners of Le Champs de Mars. And there is more to come...
We bought the “book” with all the races as well as the horses racing each race. We examined the lists as thoroughly as we could and tried to sort out which horse to bid on.
We had no idea of who was the best horse to bid on, however we did bid. Off course we had to bid at a horse race.
Now for the VIP lodges. We had the privilege to stand in one of the best lodges! And what a view!
Down there working with the camera is Swadeck, our lovely local friend who helped us in into Le Champ de Mars.
The family is enjoying our VIP lodges
Here the horses are off….
… and we managed to win our first race haha!
A little while later, Swadeck had organised with his colleague for us to visit the Manager of Le Champ de Mars. The Manager was very welcoming and we all stepped into his office. He was very open hearted and answered all our questions, the adults’ as well as the kids’. It was a very nice meeting and he off course had a few questions about our sailing around the world.
Before the next race we had the honor to assist at the parade of horses where they are shown for the public before the betting closes for the start.
Alex really wants to make sure to bid on the right horse until he found a horse named “Alex”…. so the choice was easily made.
And now for the next race.
It was a good race, but “Alex” did not win. Behind our lodge was a courtyard where people queued up to bid at different book keepers.
At the end of this race we got the privilege too to assist at the price giving ceremony.
Swadeck being one of the main camera man of Le Champs de Mars, we got yet another privilege to visit the “heart” of the horse racing. In here, all the races are monitored. They also have an overview of all the horse races in the world (!) which they can bet on if they wish. For us strangers, this It is another world.
We spent a fabulous day amazed by all the people so devoted in horse racing. We also experienced how well all these religions as well as different backgrounds gather together in a common activity. It was such a relief to get away from the boat, the repairs and the never-ending-fixing-list and enter in the world of our hosting country.
In the evening Swadeck and Ravi invited us to a “Bollywood” party they were involved in. It was actually a fashion show for a well known Hindu Fashion House showing their latest creations. These ladies below are guests. Yes we did feel somewhat out of the game. The show was delivered by beautiful models walking the catwalk in the “pond” (picture to the right) wearing the most amazing creations one after the other. The red thread through the creations was clearly as much bling-bling as possible. They were all like walking bright shining stars.
Thankyou Ravi and Swadeck for yet another lovely time spent together and for everything you have showed us being the heart of Mauritius.