May 11, 2020 / 4:56 PM / in 19 days

Horseracing: Racing returns to France with ParisLongchamp events

Jockeys wearing protective face masks get ready before the start of Prix d'Escoville race as horse racing resumes behind closed doors at Longchamp in Paris as France softens its strict lockdown rules during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - Horse racing returned in France on Monday for the first time since the novel coronavirus shutdown, with races at ParisLongchamp without fans in attendance.

Victor Ludorum, a hot favourite in the Prix de Fontainebleu, suffered a shock defeat and had to be content with third place as The Summit cruised to victory ahead of Ecrivain.

Batwan, another outsider, triumphed in the Prix de Saint-Georges by half a length over veteran Gold Vibe, while 2019 winner and favorite Sestilio Jet finished third.

“Certainly we run behind closed doors... But what satisfaction to see this first race finally arriving,” Olivier Delloye, chief executive of France Galop, tweeted.

Sport in the country has been suspended since March but the French government gave the event the green light with strict social distancing measures, including jockeys having to wear masks and limited personnel allowed on track.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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