Jan Clark 02/08/2001


The British U21 Endurance squad travelled to the Raid Du Morvan 130 kms ride at Moulins Engilbert in the Bourgogne region of France. Their trip was made necessary by the cancellation of the 2 FEI rides in England that were recognised qualifiers for the U21 Endurance World Championships in Spain in September. As is usual with endurance the 9 strong squad was dominated by Arabs and part breds, with just one non Arab member - the delightful home bred Connemara mare "WOTAN ROSE CAILI" ridden by Catriona Moon.

Catriona Moon with"WOTAN ROSE CAILI"
(Photo courtesy of Eric G Jones 01747 860625)

In the days leading up to the competition the horses were constantly monitored by the team vets Kieran O'Brien and Mat Fernandez, and the riders motivated by the chief D'Equipe Sue Broughton. To cope with the very demanding course and the high temperatures a careful strategy for the field was worked out with " Floating Crews" David & Jean Hamilton and the Lockett family manning the more inaccessible crew points, leaving the main crews with plenty of time to attend their horses and riders on course and still get to the vet gates. There were to be no heroics on the day, the aim of the game was to get everyone round and qualified for the World Championships. To this end a riding speed of 11 - 12 KPH was set with efficient crewing allowing quick presentations at the vet gates.

With 96 starters leaving the town square at 6am on Saturday morning, some of the riders were carried along with the initial charge into the countryside, but showing strength and maturity beyond their years, they all soon settled into the rhythm of the ride and came into the first vet gate at Arleuf within 20 minutes of each other and some 40 minutes off the pace. Sadly Brianna Egan's pure bred mare " MIDNIGHT COUNTESS" was eliminated here. They had suffered a nasty fall whilst negotiating a boulder strewn descent into a river and the resulting cuts on a back leg saw them eliminated for lameness.

The next 44KMS section back to the second vet gate at Arleuf was the toughest culminating in as ascent to the Maquis De Socrate Monument at over 800 meters just 8KMS from the vet gate. The youngest squad member 14y.o Laura Davies-Holloway decided to retire her pure bred gelding "MALUKKI" here, he had not settled in well in the stables, refusing to eat and Laura wisely decided to call it a day. The remaining 7 maintained their sensible pace and again were quickly through the vet gate, with good recovery rates.

The 3rd section, 31KMS back to Moulins was easier going but was out of the forest into more open countryside, exposing the horses to the full glare of the afternoon sun. At the vet gate there was very little shade and with the temperature into the 30s, everyone was kept busy ferrying water to the crews. Again all passed quickly, but throughout the 40 minute vet hold the crews kept working as all horses had to represent to the vets before going out on the final 21 KMS loop. Lucy Taylor and "ELECTRIC BLUE", supreme EHPS Champions last year, were kept busy waiting on the hot tarmac, and despite the best efforts of the crew sadly, "LECCY'S" heart rate went up to 70 and he was eliminated.

Anna Williams with "KHAIRHO"
Vicky Brown with "SIMPLY CHLOE"

(Photos courtesy of Eric G Jones 01747 860625)

The remaining 6 resisted the urge to speed up, although the horses were still going strongly, and just after 8pm Vicky Brown with "SIMPLY CHLOE" and Anna Williams with "KHAIRHO" cantered hand in hand over the line. Next in were Catriona Moon and "CAILI" with Sarah Tyson and "DIAMOND DYNASTY".

Sarah Tyson with "DIAMOND DYNASTY".
(Photo courtesy of Eric G Jones 01747 860625)

The final pair, Sam Oakes and Anna Welch on the well matched chestnut geldings "YAMAVAH" and "BLUE ZIROCCO" were just behind them. All 6 were soon ready for the final vetting, and were quickly assessed by team vets Kieran and Mat before being sent in. A nerve wracking time for the whole team as the heart rate and physical checks were made before going on to the trot up. All 6 ride vets watched each horse and them went into a huddle before announcing their decision. A thumbs up for pass. A great cheer went up as one by one the horses passed through and finally it was just DIAMOND DYNASTY to go. Anxious moments as she was asked to trot again and them jubilation as she got the thumbs up. 6 horses round out of 9 was a tremendous result as out of 96 starters only 42 were successful

Sam Oakes and Anna Welch with "YAMAVAH" and "BLUE ZIROCCO"
(Photo courtesy of Eric G Jones 01747 860625)

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'Endurance Jan'


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