Get two French endurance riders together and, when talk comes round to their youngstock there is only one question: 'Uzes?'
These four letters (actually a town in the heart of the Languedoc Roussilon area) are the culmination of a season of qualifying rides held by the Society Hippique Francais who are the body dedicated to nurturing, furthering and proving the quality of young French bred sports horses.
There are three classes at the Uzes final:
* four year olds who are attempting their first 40k (41 entries)
* six year olds tomorrow who are trying their first 90k (186 entries)
* five year olds who doing their first ever 60k (over 200 entries)
According to Leonard Liesens of Belgium, France has a funded, comprehensive Young Horse program:
"For the 4 years-40km and 5 years-60km, there is a maximum speed imposed on Young Horse competitions.
For 6 years on 90km, there are two competitions, one with a max set speed and one with free speed.
But this is not the most important item in the equation:
In the 6 years final, horses are ranked according to a point system ( 0, 1.. up to 4 points if I remember well)
- 1 point for recovering to 56BPM in less than 10min
- 1 point for the gaits (attitude at the trotting, energy, quality, etc...)
- 1 point for the speed in the 5% (not sure) of the winner
- 1 point for the sped in the 10% (not sure neither but I will check) of the winner
4 points earns an 'elite', 3 'excellent, 2 ' very good', 1 'good', 0 qualified
Several of the french champions came from the young horse finals.
The young horse events are organized all year round across France to give everyone the chance to compete without trailering horses too far away. These regional events are at the same time qualifying event for the finals in Uzes.
Also every time your horse complete a qulifying race, the owner receives incentive money (something like 100 euros for a successful 60km) which helps to cover expenses."
For coverage and photos of the 2007 Uzes Young Horse Finals, go to EnduranceEurope.Net coverage
Official event website is http://www.endurance-uzes.com/