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Endurance.Net Home 2007 Uzes: A Spectators View
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Day 1
Images by
Brigette Huard
Day 1
Images by
Brigette Huard

Official Event Site

Official Event Documents
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Boucle Nord 31km
Boucle Sud 21km
Boucle Sud 31km
Boucle Nord 21km



400 Entrants!!

Stephane Chazel
(in the middle)
watching the vetting

The Horses

Images by Basil de Mulo

Get two French endurance riders together and, when talk comes round to their youngstock there is only one question ? 'Uzes?'

These four letters (actually a town in the heart of the Languedoc Roussilon area) are the culmination of a season of qualifying rides held by the Society Hippique Francais who are the body dedicated to nurturing, furthering and proving the quality of young French bred sports horses.

All over the country from March onwards, on the Saturday before the scheduled competitions which are held on the Sunday, the SHF run their set speed qualifying rides for four, five and six year old horses. The pulse and speed parameters are the same as for normal rides over those distances but, unlike the regular competitions there are no placings; you either pass or fail and, as a bonus, if you do pass, you get financially reimbursed.. If you wish your horse to enter the finals then it cannot have attempted the Uzes distance beforehand. So the 4yr olds may not have tried a 40k ride, the 5yr olds have to have only competed up to and including 40k and the six year olds can never have attempted more than a 60k set speed ride.

Every year since the ride's inception in 1992 the numbers have swelled and this year there were over 400 entries across the three classes. 41 four year olds doing their first ever 40kilometres consisting of two 20k loops to be completed between 10 and 12kph with an hour's rest in between, This took place today and was followed by a parade of those horses who had been entered in a 'friendly' sale (as opposed to an auction).

Tomorrow there will be 189 six year olds competing in their first ever 90k 'race'

But the 'race' aspect is directly opposed to the aims of the society who are trying to bring on the youngsters gently, truly believing the foundation stones of a good endurance prospect need to be laid slowly and steadily in order to produce a horse whose career will last more than a couple of seasons. The SHF are justifiably proud of their encouragement of French bred endurance horses and don't want to see them burned out and sold abroad before they can carry the French flag to victory.

The SHF were so upset last year at these young horses galloping round in order to catch the eyes of the big buyers that tomorrow there will not be a mass start but a staggered one.

They are almost the victims of their own success because Uzes has become the major market place for professional yards wanting to sell their young horses, and therefore attracts buyers from all over the world (but mostly the middle east). Last year Stephane Chazel, a well known endurance rider, trainer and agent, had an 'open cheque' from Sheik Mohammed to buy the first ten horses in the 90k. This was no secret and resulted in astonishing speeds with nine horses crossing the line within seconds of each other. However, not one of those nine, including the rider who finished second and who had ridden the last loop at 24kph, could reach the pulse parameters in that first ten minutes and it wasn't until the tenth horse over the line (who had been ridden at 17.5kph) was vetted successfully that the first coveted 'elite' was awarded. 'Elite' status is awarded to the horse who obtains a 54bpm within ten minutes of crossing the finish line. You do not have to offer the horse up for this extra vetting ? whether you do or not you still have to do the compulsory vetting at exactly 30 minutes where the horse only has to be below 60 for the 4 and 5yr olds, 56 for the six year olds ? but if you wish your horse to gain that coveted 'elite' award then you're going to use up a small reservoir trying to cool him down to the magic number.

More tomorrow,

Basil de Mulo