Friday, May 06, 2011

Belgium: Mont Le Soie

by Leonard Liesens

We recorded 200 horses during this first-of-May week-end in Mont Le Soie. We had a bright weather, a bit chilly and windy but with clear skies most of the time. That was in the advantage of the horses even if the crew had to play with the rugs (putting on, removing, re-putting on) depending of the horse temperature and the sun playing with the clouds.

A lot of foreigners, actually a record for this 2011 edition. The ride manager is thanking all riders who did long hauls to reach Mont Le SOie, and also the Belgians, who honoured the ride. All in all, Mont Le Soie is becoming one of the endurance competitions on the international circuit.

The going was predicted as easier thanks to the rain which had fallen during the days before. But it didn't rain enough to soften the trails and the going was quite hard. As a consequence, the average speed was lower than previous years; riders had to cope with the circumstances, which is normally the case for endurance riders, isn't it? Finally the completion ratio is good, ranging from 60% to 70 % depending on the races.

On the 160, the course of events was crystal-clear. From the beginning, there was a pack of leaders setting the pace. There were the three French riderss (Begaud, Dumas, Couderc) accompanied by the Belgo-French Wendy Fallon. Elise Couderc has in fact Belgian connections as she used to live in Belgium for several years as a forestry technician where she rode Shanon from the early qualification stages. This quartet of riders was in fact a quintet until the 5th loop when Aurelie Wery was pulled for lameness of her gelding. A bit behind, the Belgian Di Geronimo, De Wasseige and Just. The Bristish lady Atkinson did also a good ride, constant in the pacing. Like the Dutch Van Wijk and the Swedish Hagman. They were probably there to look for a completion on 160km. Job done!

As far as eliminations, there was one at the first loop cause by a fall (Van Cauter, Taborah de Sier). Bienfait gave up also after she felt from her horse at the start. Lut�ce de Crouz was looking for a selection in the Belgian Team from Florac but wasn't able to pass the 4th vetgate, horse lame.

On the contrary of the 160, the 120km-ride-for-juniors has had unexpected development during the last loop. The leader Anciaux did a hard job on the 3rd loop to increase the gap with the pursuers. That has the only tactic she could handle with her mare who needed more time to recover. So she started the last loop in the lead leaving the others 11 minutes behind. But her mare collapsed during the last climb back to the venue and was passed by three horses. At the end, Emeline Piron on Alicia finished first and detached. Alicia d'Havenne is a mare coming from the EWalraid program (a incentive program financed by the Wallonian region to help the breeders from Wallonia to promote their horses). She was trained and ridden by Dominique Evrard until recently (she brought her toward two selections in the Belgian team, Assisi and Lexington).

On Sunday, there were two international FEI rides, one CEI** 120km and one CEI* 100km. At the same time there were 100 horses coming for the national tests on 20 to 80km. On the 120km, the British Team (called the "World Class Start and Potential Squad") entered the ride with 9 horses. They did quite well as six of them completed the ride and it looked like they were happy as they confirmed their participation for next year. In the lead, victory for the good French mare Sharirah du Vent ridden by Simon Bellot.

More ride reports here:

Photos and slide show here:

Fun photos here:

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