BRITISH RIDERS AT THE YOUNG HORSE CHAMPIONSHIP UZES 2007-10-09
very warm welcome was extended to the four British riders,
Sophie O’Hara Smith, Larissa Whiley, Philip
Hurst and Rachael Claridge, who went over to Uzes in the
south of France as guests of the Society Hippique Francais
(SHF). Not only had the organiser Guillaume DeThore provided
a translator but had also prepared special copies of the
crew routes etc in English, and had decorated some of the
tables in the restaurant the marquee with union jacks.
This event is the national showcase for young horses from
all over France. It was set up 14 years ago and started
with just 40 horses. This year there were over 400. It
is designed to pin point potential elite horses and influence
their early training so that they are brought in a controlled
and well planned manner. I understand it has become a successful
a commercial event which was not the original intention
and many horses are for sale.
The competition took place over three days. Two and three
year olds were shown on the Friday and there were competitions
for four five and six year olds. All the horses were competing
at the relevant distance for the first time. The four year
olds at 40k with two 20k loops run between 10-12k with
an hours hold; the five year olds at 60k with two 30k loops
run between 12-15k with a 40 minute hold and the six year
olds at 90k with three 30k loops and no speed limit. We
rode in the five year old 60k class.
The venue was at the Haras National (National Stud) with
beautiful manicured grounds. It was lively and bustling,
with lots to see with vetting going on most of the days.
There was a running commentary, electronic information
on the races and places to sit and watch the vetting and
trade stands, and of course the horses at the stud.
There were large open sided marquees providing food for
riders crews and visitors and a VIP marquee with lovely
food which we were given passes for. Another nice feature
of the weekend was the aperitifs that were provided in
the evenings by the SHF which brought the riders and crews
On the Saturday we watched the 6 year olds competing.
There were some 180 declared with 157 starters of which
91 finished. Only 15 received the coveted elite award by
gaining three points, 30 were excellent, 29 tres bon, 12
bon and 5 classe and 66 eliminated or retired. The top
successful speed was 18.2 kph.
Later on three of us got to meet our prospective mounts,
all except Rachael who rode hers for the first time in
the event. The horses all came from well known endurance
homes and it was very generous of the owners Francois Atger,
Antonio Noguera, Virginie Simone and Stephan Chazel to
provide such potentially good horses for us to ride.
the evening we were treated to a Gala dinner with a display
of traditional Carmargue riding. The French team
were at the dinner and were presented with gifts to mark
their success in Portugal to the rousing strains of Queens “We
are the champions of the world”!!
Our 5 year old class was on the Sunday. The 60k ride is
run between 12k-15k in two 30k loops with a 40 minute hold.
At the end the pulse is taken at 10 minutes. If it is 54
or under the horse scores one point if not it returns at
30 minutes and has to be under 64 and sound. The horses
that pass the initial heart rate parameter then come back
to be assessed for condition and attitude and trot up in
front of the vets and others.
were 135 starters and we set off in groups of about 10
at five minute intervals. According to reports on last
year’s event the organisers had decided to avoid
having a mass start after excessive speeds, especially
for the 6 year olds. With the number of horses involved
I was fully in support of this decision!
The ride was considered flat with a 400m change in levels
over the course. There were two different 30k loops from
the venue. The first loop was undulating and set off along
the road and quickly lead onto a series of broad sandy
tracks which had been specially prepared with a new top
surface for the ride, these were interspersed with some
narrow wooded quite stony sections and hard tracks. There
were quite a few minor road crossings and the route took
us through several small villages where the tarmac was
very very slippery. The lead horse in my group went down
on the road but was OK.
The second loop was mostly over flat open agricultural
country with less of the beautifully prepared sandy sections.
There was one significant climb which gave a fantastic
view from the top towards the Cevenne mountains to the
managed to get three of the four horses home within the10
minute pulse rate parameter of 54 which was not bad
considering our mounts had had less training than their
stable mates, mine was on it’s third ever ride! Three
passed the trot up and attitude test, mine shied and failed
to get a second point, so we ended up with two excellent
and two tres bon. Overall there were 62 horses graded excellent,
48 tres bon, 21 classe and I believe only 4 retired or
were eliminated. The owners were delighted and we were
presented with tee shirts and stable plaques at the prize
The organiser Guillaume DeThore extended an invitation
for us to bring GB horses another year if we wished and
said he could organise for us to join the French Federation
to be eligible. Anyone wanting any more information could
contact me through EGB www.endurancegb.co.uk
Endurance GB Senior Elite Squad Member 2007