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The French Classics are four of the oldest and most prestigious thoroughbred races run in France. Originally modelled on the English Classics, the French Classics are now on a par with the English Classics, offering some of the biggest purses in international thoroughbred racing, and drawing the strongest fields in Europe.
A Taste of Parisian Elegance
The French Classics begin just days after the running of the Newmarket Guineas across the English Channel. The first race on the French Classics schedule is the Grand Prix du Jockey Club, often referred to as the ‘French Derby’. Whilst the race rarely features entries to the Epsom Derby, it is recognised as one of the most important races for 3 year old colts and fillies of the season.
Classics racing returns to Chantilly for the next of the French Classics, as the finest thoroughbred fillies in Europe meet to contest the Prix de Diane a week after the ‘French Derby’. This race is the French equivalent of the Epsom Oaks, and is the most prestigious race for 3 year old fillies raced in Europe.
In mid-July the finest trainers and thoroughbreds in Europe gather at Longchamp racecourse to contest the Grand Prix de Paris. This race constitutes the second leg of both the mares’ and fillies’ French Triple Crown, and is run on Bastille Day. The race will often feature thoroughbreds that performed well in the Prix du Jockey club.
The last, and most prestigious, of the Classics takes place in October. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the second richest thoroughbred race in the world, and is regarded as the most prestigious flat race in Europe. Run at Longchamp, the race attracts only the finest champion 3 year old thoroughbreds.
French Classics Betting
Despite their prestige and prominent place in European thoroughbred racing, the French Classics do not receive extensive antepost coverage from UK bookmakers, with markets generally opening just days before each race. The exception to this is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe which receives more extensive coverage than the first three French Classics.
Although thoroughbreds from the United Kingdom routinely travel across the channel in attempts to scoop the riches in some of Europe’s wealthiest races, the French Classics are dominated by racehorses trained in France. As a result a basic familiarity with French group 1 racing can be very helpful when betting on the French Classics.