Fed up with a racing authority decision to cut bonuses to French-trained horses, a group of trainers, owners and breeders have successfully shut down a Group One meeting at Saint Cloud.
The meeting at the track on the outskirts of Paris was due to host the Criterium International and the Criterium de Saint Cloud, including several runners from the UK.
But the meeting was cancelled after a demonstration against a planned cut in premiums that will affect in particular French-bred horses.
"I don't think the blockage as such was pre-planned, but it was planned to have a meeting with the leaders of the organisations involved," Georges Rimaud, a director at France-Galop, told At The Races.
"They have met with them and discussed with them. The blocking was due to reforms, and the finances, being announced by France-Galop.
"The people are the owners' and trainers' association and also a group of professionals which have decided that the reforms being put forward by France-Galop are not to their liking."
English trainer Harry Dunlop was left fuming with the decision, having set Fighting Irish for the Criterium International.
"It seems to be a certain number of smaller trainers who are dissatisfied," Dunlop said. "A lot of trainers, though, who I know quite well, are very annoyed at the situation.“
Trainer Karl Burke told the Racing Post that the protesters were 'totally wrong'.
"I just think it's very poor trainers themselves have caused the abandonment of any race, never mind a Group 1 day," he said. "I'd be amazed if it ever happened in the UK or Ireland."
"If it were some of the workers, the stalls handlers, that would be a different matter. But for actual trainers to think it's right to cause the abandonment of racing, I think that's totally wrong. I find it hard to swallow."
Aidan O’Brien, who broke the record for the most international Group One winners, trained in a year over the weekend, had five runners in the two Group One races.
France Galop has since confirmed the meeting would not be rescheduled.
“On Sunday, October 29, 2017 at Saint-Cloud, the race meeting had to be abandoned due to a protest initiated by the “Save Racing” group whose members prevented the normal and safe conduct of the meeting.”
“The seven races on the card that have not been contested will not be run this year.”