Meanwhile in … Marseille

Horse Racing Clement Lenglet M'Baye Niang
When you can’t score at the stadium, you can always try the racetrack…

First winners for football stars Clement Lenglet and M’Baye Niang

France: Anyone picking up a copy of Saturday’s edition of Paris-Turf might have been forgiven for thinking they’d got L’Equipe instead. Splashed across the front cover of the French equine-sports daily were big photographs of international football stars Clement Lenglet and M’Baye Niang.

While both are currently hors de combat owing to the coronavirus, that hasn’t stopped either of them scoring – at the racetrack, where they are both new owners.

Barcelona centre-back Lenglet got off the mark as an owner when Prix du Jockey Club entry Bois D’Argent made a winning debut in a €10,000 event under Pierre Charles-Boudot at Chantilly on Monday May 18.

The son of Toronado is one of two Francis Graffard-trained horses Lenglet owns in partnership with his father Sebastian under the ‘Ecurie Lenglet’ banner.

“We often went to racetracks when I was young,” Lenglet told Paris-Turf. “When I was in Nancy I lived right next to the racetrack. So as soon as there were races, I took the opportunity to go there.”

Lenglet rushed back after training to watch the race at Chantilly. “I arrived home eight minutes before the start so I could see the race,” he added. “It was fantastic – but I would love to go to the races to see my horses run. I haven’t had a chance yet.”

Judging from reports, Senegal striker Niang couldn’t wait: he and a high-ranking France Galop official were among five men caught breaking coronavirus restrictions at Marseille’s Pont de Vivaux racecourse on May 12.

According to a report by the Racing Post’s French correspondent Scott Burton, Patrick Dreux – president of France Galop’s regional committee – used his access code to watch races from the panoramic restaurant with Niang and three others. All men involved have been fined €1,500 for their involvement.

At least it was worth it for Niang, as two-year-old Swetty Beauty won the opener. Frederic Rossi trains the filly; Niang has six horses altogether, the majority with Christophe Escuder.

The striker’s racing colours are red and black, reflecting those of his club side Rennes (Stade Rennais) and former employers AC Milan.

And what is more, Swetty Beauty is no one-hit wonder: she went in again on Saturday in a claimer at Salon-de-Provence. It is to be hoped Niang stayed at home this time around.

• Q+A with Clement Lenglet at the Paris-Turf website

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