Endurance riders make final preparations
Patrice Cottin’s stables in Saint-Pair-sur-Mer are a real cosmopolitan mix, with endurance horses from France, Portugal, Tunisia, Switzerland and elsewhere. After unpacking, some teams even took advantage of the nearby beach for exercise.
Before the event gets underway, we checked in with the French delegation.
The race will start from Sartilly and will feature five loops, which is slightly different for a modern race. For Jean-Philippe Frances, a rider on the French team, having five instead of six loops will add some extra excitement.
“For a 160km race, we typically do six loops so being out on the course for longer periods than usual will require riders to be more patient before attempting a breakaway. This also adds to the technical aspect of the contest as the horses will have to cover a greater distance in order to complete each loop.”
The different types of surfaces will also pose a challenge on this particularly technical course: “The horses will run on the beach, pavement, fields, private paths, granite, grass, etc. Riders will have to be extremely focused and has given the farriers a headache”, said Bénédicte Emond-Bon, the French national coach, with a smile.
The home team, France, is among the favourites: “Historically, France has won a lot of medals in endurance. My role is to make sure my riders stay calm”, Jean-Philippe Frances, the French rider, said. Bénédicte Emond-Bon spoke about her experienced team: “The fact that we’ll be competing on home soil will give us extra motivation and the team has several horses with big event experience. The youngest is an eight-year-old but ridden by Jean-Philippe, who is a very experienced rider. So I believe that we’ll be in the medal hunt even though the competition will be fierce and the primary objective is to make sure all the horses finish the race.”
Endurance is the French team’s second-biggest event in terms of the number of competitors and the large crowds that are expected to turn out for the event will give the team a real boost. Given the picture perfect landscapes the race will feature the public is sure to come out in droves. See you on Thursday!