The entire racing world watches France on Sunday during the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

But, somewhat surprisingly for two nations with such disparate betting cultures, Britain has over the past three years emerged as the top export destination for French racing.

According to chief executive Emmanuelle Malecaze-Doublet of former monopoly operator Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), Britain and Ireland are currently significant growth drivers.

“We really felt we needed to adapt to the public and the culture in Britain and Ireland is for fixed odds betting,” Malecaze-Doublet told the Racing Post. “It’s no use thinking that because something works in France it will work everywhere.

“You have to adapt to the culture in each country and just because you are selling French races into Britain doesn’t mean you should expect British punters to adopt a way of betting they are not used to.

PMU Director General Emmanuelle Malecaze-Doublet

“In the UK and Ireland, fixed odds betting really is the dominant force. After years of pursuing pool betting options in those two countries we began to work with partners on a fixed odds product.

“The UK is today our number one market and has become extremely important to us, really over the last three years.”

Malecaze-Doublet added: “We started working with a single bookmaker and that has grown to over 20 firms including all the market leaders.

“It has worked very well with Britain because we have a lot of races, while we are lucky to have some British and Irish jockeys and trainers in France, meaning there is that familiarity for punters.

“The fact we are so close geographically also helps because the British and Irish stars regularly come and run in our best races. All in all we have a great relationship with our bookmaking partners.

“In addition we have a wonderful partnership with Sky Sports Racing, who broadcast our best racing on a daily basis.” 

In 2021, the bookmaker alliances generated a total fixed odds turnover of €16 million for the Arc day card at Longchamp, of which €7 million was wagered on the main event.

As a result, Britain became the top contributor in Europe. Malecaze-Doublet thinks there is real value in the continued demand for British and Irish players in French racing, even though the numbers do not compare to those of the two Asian powerhouses.

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