The Mauritian Turf Club end a week long celebration of 200 years in horseracing on the island, the third oldest in the world, with a race meeting at Champ De Mars on Saturday.
The turf club celebrated with the Gala Evening on Tuesday and a visit to the Blue Penny Museum on Wednesday and laying of a wreath at the grave site Col Draper on Thursday morning.
The grand finale is the Nine races scheduled on June 30 to conclude the weeks festivities. The slogan ‘Celebrating 200 years of passion’ was launched at the beginning of the festival to promote the events around the 200 years.
The history of the start of racing in Mauritius is fascinating. Two years after the English had overthrown the French army from Mauritius, the English governor Robert Farquhar, his wife Lady Maria Latour founded the Maurtian Turf Club on June 12, 1812 eager to reconcile existing French colonists and the British administration. The first races were held on June 25, 1812 and have been held every year without fail even through World Wars I and II.
Sir Farquhar, Charles Telfair and Cononel Edward Draper facilitated a transition between the French and the British after 1810. Draper arrived on the scene in 1813/1814. The horses of these gentlemen competed at the track on numerous occasions.
On Tuesday, the MTC paid a visit to the Port Louis based, Blue Penny Museum. It is a treasure in itself and the only racing museum worldwide to offer images in recontructed 3D, which glasses available for viewing. The historical data is detailed and of interest to many families around the island who contributed to the museum and represent the heart and soul of Mauritian racing.
At the beginning of the Museum visit, Odile Desjardins (pictured), won a competition for an image that best depicts Mauritian racing. She won almost R35 000 for her efforts.
See images of he evening