By Hamish Mungur

Founded in 1812, the Mauritius Turf Club is the third oldest active turf club in the world and is located in Port Louis. This turf club is home to the Champ de Mars course, a racing course that has grown from its humble origins into a well respected and internationally recognized racing course. This circular course began as a small, grass covered course but over the years it has been expanded to meet regulation race track lengths.

The racing season for the Mauritius Turf Club runs from May until early in December and during this time four classic as well as six semi-classic races are held. Of these the most popular are the Maiden Cup and the Gold Cup. The first official race of the season is held on the opening day and is reserved for horses that have been newly imported to the island. This race is called the Duchess of York Cup and is wildly popular.

Horse racing is the most popular sport on the island and each year more and more people attend the race days. Up to 50,000 spectators can attend the races in a variety of seating and standing options including the grand stand, the hillside stand and the center of the track. The Mauritius Turf Club is continually rising to meet the needs of their growing venue and improvements are constantly being made for both the participants and the spectators.

Betting is a popular pastime while attending the races. At first unregulated bookies provided the only source of betting with each setting their own odds as well as collection and payout standards. This mafia type betting evolved over the years until today where betting counters are omnipresent in the turf club, and the process has become much more civilized. Die hard betters will eagerly await the release of the race card each Thursday for that Saturday’s races, and they will watch the odds until finally deciding on a bet.

The Mauritius Turf Club provides an excellent change of pace for vacationers who need a break from the sun and sand. The fervor and enthusiasm of the punters is matched by those who choose not to bet on the wide range of horses and jockeys that travel from all over the globe to compete in these world renowned races.

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