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Francis Clément: I want it to be impeccable

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Co-founder of the company Toubin & Clément, which designs equestrian surfaces, Francis Clément is on duty at D’Ornano Stadium to monitor how the surface holds up. The test events have given an idea about how the surfaces can be maintained, as they are vital for the horses’ comfort and performance. Here, Clément gives us a short explanation.

Francis Clément: I want it to be impeccable
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What are the special features of the arena surface in D’Ornano Stadium?

All of the temporary arenas that we set up, like the one for the Games, must immediately be in working order. We do not use exactly the same materials as for permanent arenas. The other special feature is not down to the surface, but rather the venue itself. Part of the stadium is in the shade and the other is in full sunlight, and this changes throughout the course of the day. We must therefore manage the issue of evaporation, because we do not know exactly how the surface will react. These test events enable us to have a better idea of what we have to do. The other special feature, which is directly linked to the World Championships, is the number of entrants in the same competition and on the same day. Again, the test events have given us a good idea and we feel reassured. Absolutely.

How often will the arena be sprayed?

We can’t really say. At the moment I have planned to spray the arena in the evening, at night. During the Games, there will be two watering teams: one during the day and one at night. If we water the arena well in the middle or at the end of the night, it should be fine for the whole of the following day, except in extreme high temperatures or high winds. But we shouldn’t need to spray the arena again during the day, even with this number of participants.

How will you maintain the surface from now until the Games?

We will maintain it as though it were in use. We cant let it go at this stage, as it still needs to settle in. So we will keep it damp, and when we come back around the 12 August to set up the Vaulting and Para-Dressage arenas, we will care for it as though we were in a competition setting.

How deep is the sand?

The top layer is 18cm thick. This surface layer is a mixture of sand and micro-sand enriched with fibres, to which we have added polyester geotextiles, chosen because their basis weight and character are very important in this type of blend. Underneath, we have a stabilising layer of grey sand, which is between 20 and 25cm deep. And underneath that, we have a very thick geotextile layer to protect the pitch. It’s a waterproof membrane, which is practically tear-proof.

So you’re feeling confident just two months ahead of the Games?

Yes. I’m an optimist by nature, and confident. However, I was pretty nervous on Sunday, and I will be again before the Games begin. I just want everything to be impeccable. I don’t want it to be good. I want to it be impeccable.

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