Port Louis – The Crowd at the Races – 1940/50s

Port Louis - Champ de Mars - The Races - 1940/50s

Port Louis – Champ de Mars – The Races – 1940/50s

The history of Champ de Mars goes back since the times of Mahé de La Bourdonnais during which the french were still occupying the island, Isle de France, then. Mahé de La Bourdonnais chose this area as a training ground for field manoeuvres for his soldiers. The training exercises were performed each Sunday, and each month there was a great review. It also happened that duels were fought there.

Immediately after the conquest of the island by the British in December 1810, Indian Soldiers were lodged in tents at the Champ de Mars. In 1812, the Champ de Mars was converted into a racetrack, for which, the initial purpuse was to reconcile conquerors and conquered in a spirit of sportsmanship. Cricket matches were also fought between British army troops at the Champ de Mars during the nineteenth century. Together with the conversion of the Champ de Mars into a racetrack, the Mauritius Turf Club also came into existance. It was founded by the British colonel Edward Alured Draper, and is the second oldest racing club after the famous English Jockey Club.

The first race ever held in Mauritius took place on the 25th of June 1812. Colonel Draper believed that a cooperative spirit could be developed between the British and the French through their common love for horse racing.

A significant event in the evolution of the Mauritius Turf Club was its merging with the Mauritius Jockey Club in 1958. The latter was founded in 1904 and organized races, from 1906 to 1943, at Mangalkhan track in Floreal. This merge boosted the membership of the Mauritius Turf Club. Races at the Champ de Mars last from April to early December. Horse Races back in the days were social events that gathered thousands and thousands of Mauritians, even today. The image says it all about the moment and the gathering.

Horse Racing Champ de Mars Band Master winning Princess Anne Plate Port Louis 1958

Horse Racing – Champ de Mars – Port Louis – 1958

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