Why We're Doing This, and How You Can Help

What would inspire two men, ages 65 and 59, to take on 11 racetracks in 21 stages and 25 days over 1,000 kilometers...on their bicycles?

The way we see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

As American expatriates living in Paris, we have decided to ride our own Tour de France--riding from racetrack to racetrack across France--during the 'real' Tour de France to raise money for Thoroughbred retirement. But we need your help.

We invite you to follow our journey, and if you'd like to sponsor us, just click on www.firstgiving.com/trf or on the Sponsor Us link below.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation currently cares for over 1200 unwanted horses. When you sponsor us, we are helping them in their mission to save ALL unwanted racehorses.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Horse Racing in France

In advance of our fund raising bike tour of French race tracks, we would like to share some of our views on French horse racing.   Why would we be doing this, apart from serving a great cause?  What fascinates us about French racing?  Is the handicapping and betting different than in the US?

In future posts we hope to answer these and other questions, and invite questions from readers of this blog.

One keys word for me in thinking about French racing is variety.  There is variety in "pistes", or racing surfaces, from track to track.  At some "hippodromes" the running is in a clockwise direction, at others they race counter clockwise.  Most pistes have uphill and downhill sections, and eccentric shapes, rather than a standard oval.  Some tracks have races run on a straight course up to a mile or longer in distance, and also include dips and rises along the way.
Most surfaces are grass, and races are never taken off the 'turf.'  If there has been lots of rain, which is not uncommon in France, horses do get bogged down in the going.  During dry periods, the racing surface can be overly firm, although at the bigger tracks the pistes do get watered to protect horses from too hard a surface.  Handicappers may be wondering how to compare a horse's races and running times from track to track given all of this variety.  Such variety can lead to confusion, and also inspire creativity.

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