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[RC] les 2 jours du Quercy - Steph Teeter

Nicky Freud is sending updates on this ride. (managed by Jack and Marie Begaud of France). We'll be posting her updates, photos, etc at
http://www.enduranceeurope.net/international/France/2007Quercy/ (it will be live/ready soon)


One hundred and thirty horses and riders, one hundred and thirty stories why each and every combination deserves to win this jewel in the crown of French rides.

Only the second running but les 2 jours de Quercy is the one that every endurance rider in France (plus several ambitious ‘etrangers’) wants to conquer.

Last year the race provided drama from the first moment when Jean Orecchioni, mingling amongst the 140 other competitors, was thrown from his horse Jason de Trigodina. The consequences for Jean were that he broke both his right thigh and right arm and is now held together by a complicated system of rods and screws. Some of which, during the last year, decided to make their own way out of his body and had to be reinserted by surgeons. Jean is back for another try. Although he has kept his horse fit tomorrow morning will be their first mass start since last year. His wife is very nervous. It is easy to spot Jean around here, not just because he is under five foot tall but also because he is 71 years old.

Jean attributes his undiminished enthusiasm to what he calls ‘fou de cheval’ – he is horse crazy. It is a condition which crosses boundaries of both geography and age. Camille de Huyvetter has a pony, a ‘fyord cross something’ pony whom she loves and who is actually smaller than Jean Orrechioni, trained for her by Jill Trier of the Ecuries d’Armagnac. Camille had no idea until yesterday, her eighteenth birthday, that by way of a present, her grandfather had entered her and her pony for Lalbanque.

As a bare minimum, in order to enter this ride, both horse and rider have to have successfully completed either a 2* ride within the previous 12 months or a 3* ride within the previous 24 months. Two star rides in this country are 119k divided into four loops with a pulse parameter of 64bpm within 20 minutes. Three stars mean a distance of over 140k with either five or six loops and cardio of 64 within 30 minutes.

However, this ride was so massively oversubscribed that the riders who had the fewest ffe (Federation Francais Equestre) points were balloted out (a sporting exception was made for Orrechioni.)

Fifteen foreign riders from nine different countries are also in the line up, sadly not including Valerie Kanavy who,, gave the locals a good run for their money having been in the leading three riders right up til leaving the final vet gate.

As I’m typing this all the horses are rugged in their stables, the riders are attending the briefing and the caterers setting out the gratis drinks and bar snacks which are (I sometimes suspect) a significant enough inducement to persuade the riders to, yet again, be reminded ‘not to go too fast on the first loop, it’s a long ride.’ The sun is setting and the temperature is barely hovering above freezing and will dip to minus five (centigrade) tonight ensuring all the horses’ water buckets are ice covered.

A civilised 9.00am start tomorrow morning will take place in the particular regional autumn speciality of the area – really thick mist clearing by midday to blazing sunshine and crystal blue skies. The other regional speciality (black truffles of the sort that are dug up by truffling pigs as opposed to the chocolate variety) are unlikely to make an appearance until the evening.

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