Racing: Plan Ahead

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The Independent Online
DEAUVILLE in August is a horse racing dream. Jockeys, trainers and equine talent decamp for the month to the elegant Normandy resort on France's east coast for a five-days-a-week festival of Flat racing and a combination of Flat and National Hunt at the nearby Clairefontaine course.

Two airlines fly to the area from Gatwick. Aigle Azur flies to Deauville, while Brit Air goes to Caen, a 45-minute drive away. Brittany Ferries sail from Portsmouth to Le Havre, also 45 minutes distant. Dieppe, from Newhaven, is 1 1/2 -hour drive from Deauville. The train from Gare St Lazare in Paris takes two hours.

Horseracing Abroad, of Sandwich, Kent, is a travel company specialising in trips to race meetings, trainers even travel with it, and for Deauville, the company is organising a trip for the third weekend, the highlight of which is the Prix Morny, a Group One race, on the Sunday.

The three-night trip leaves on 20 August, staying at either the deluxe Normandy hotel from pounds 619 to pounds 679 per person or the two-star Ibis hotel at pounds 399. The package includes flight from Gatwick, hotel accommodation in Deauville, transfers to course.

Normandy is the centre of the French horse-breeding industry, and the Societe d'Encouragement, the equivalent of the Jockey Club, can help with information. The annual yearling sales at Deauville are from 21 to 26 August. To back a winner at the track, use the Pari-Mutuel, the French equivalent of the Tote. Fleecing the bookmakers is not feasible in France as they are illegal.

Deauville, racing days 31 July-1 August, 3 August, 5, 7-8, 10, 12, 14-15, 18, 21-22, 24, 28-29. Clairefontaine, 2 August, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 25, 27.

Hippodrome de Deauville (Tel: 010 33 31882008); Hippodrome de Clairfontaine (Tel: 010 33 31880594). Admission: Ffr20 ( pounds 2.30) midweek, Ffr30 weekends.

Horseracing Abroad, 15 Market Street, Sandwich, Kent CT13 9DA (Tel: 0304- 612424).

Societe d'Encouragement Deauville Office: 7 Rue le Marois (Tel: 010 33 31882008).

French Government Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 0AL (Tel: 071-499 6911 - recorded information only).

Airlines: Aigle Azur (Gatwick to Deauville) pounds 300 return; Brit Air (Gatwick to Caen) return flight: pounds 117 weekend, pounds 169 basic, pounds 142 senior citizens, pounds 116 under-25, pounds 322 full economy. Bookings through Air France on 081-742 6600.

Details of forthcoming events with information on tickets and venues should be sent to The Sports Desk, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB or faxed to 071-956 1894.