Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cazon FEI International Endurance Races - Leonard Liesens

Nov 29th 2008

My fourth trip to Argentina. This time the initial goal of our trip was the conference organized by the Association of the Arabian Horse Breeders led by Elena Romero. Elena is the owner of the Los Estribos Haras where the famous Wagram stallion is the chief sire.

Elena invited us – Francois Atger, from France and myself - to present the “French system of performing in endurance”. During the two days of the conference held during the Horse Fair of Buenos Aires, we presented various aspects of the system. While Francois Atger concentrated mainly on the breeding and the raising of the endurance horse in France, I focused on the education and conditioning of the horse, from the young horse to the high level techniques. A good hundred of riders and breeders attended the conference, asking many questions.

Then we had the opportunity to visit the Haras of Los Estribos and see the young stock produced by Wagram. Wagram is well-known in the world for being the sire of two winners of the President Cup – RO Fabiola and RO Super. His get, especially the herd of males of two and three year was very impressing and similar looking, something that one with the eye of a breeder likes very much.

On the Thursday we finally head to Cazon with our friends Miguel and Celina Pavlovsky . I was eager to see the horse that Miguel offered me to ride. In fact, I have been always very very successful with Miguel’s horses. I had the big pleasure to ride his good mare Mora Austria in 2003 at the 160km ride in Bahia Blanca, then the year after at the PanAm in Pinamar, completing at 5th place.

This time again I was blessed when I jumped on Mora Nina. I was immediately sure she was a girl with the killer instinct. Apart from that she had also the movements and the right relaxed and ground covering canter that we like in Europe. Mora Nina is a tall anglo-arab mare from the famous chief sire of the Haras San Andres, Moro Fugitivo. Pablos de Heros’s horse Moro Ideal was also impressive : a strong and very tall part-arab by Moro Fugitivo out of a French saddlebred mare. With him, Pablo’s has a good placing as a combination horse/rider at the FEI ranking. He was actually second with the possibility of collecting enough points to finish at the first place.

Bothe of us were competing on the CEI*** on the distance of 120km, among a pack of a good 50 starters, which is quite exceptional for Argentina. Among the starters, Valery Kanavy riding LM Parys.

And last but not least, the Boss, Miguel, who was competing with Mora Presumida for the Argentinian Championship on the distance of 160km.

Cazon is an ideal place for organizing endurance rides. A very nice venue on the grass with plenty of space for camping. Steph has described the venue better than I could do. We liked very much the way it had been designed in the local style.

The weather was hot, too hot on the Thursday. Fortunately, there was a big storm with big rainfall during the evening. This made the going softer, removed the dust and cleaned up the skies. The day of the ride, the weather was still hot – around 30 degrees Celsius – but with a good breeze.

The start of the 160km was given at 5AM while the 120km was flagged off at 6PM. Only 7 riders on the 160km for a long ride across the agricultural fields for 7 loops. A very good going, packed sand and sometimes grass along the highway, almost like cantering on a racetrack most of the time.

Three horses were eliminated at the third vetgate, then another one paid his toll to the speed at the 4th vetgate. So only 3 were allowed to take the start of the last loop of 19km, Petersen, Pavlosky and Taddeo. Finally Pedersen won at the average speed of 14.86kph. The two others were less fortunate as their horse didn’t pass the final examination.

On the 120km, 14 riders competing in the category Young riders and 33 in the category Seniors. Winner of the Young riders was Larrere Guadalupe on Sche Abu (Avg speed: 18.51kph); second Martin Ojeda on board Al Anochecer and third place for Manuela Mender riding M Diaguita.

The 120km race for the seniors was won by Antonio Ponce riding Del Siete Barbara at the average speed of 20.06kph. I finished second with my outstanding mare Mora Nina, just 2 minutes behind Antonio and with a few more kilometers, I’m sure Mora Nina could beat him, but this is the sport. We were cruising in the middle of the pack for the first and second loop, trying to find the right pacing for this mare, trying to go fast but relaxed at the same time, without taking care of the others. At this game, Mora Nina proved her excellent mental and sense of independence. Perfect girl… After the fourth loop, staying always at a good tempo, I started to pass many riders, either at the vetgate or on the trail… So it was the time to think about a good placing. At the start of the last loop, we were 4th with a gap of 2 minutes on the third and 6 minutes or so on third(Valerie Kanavay) but 12 minutes on the leader. Second place was in the range of Mora Nina possibilities, depending on her mental during the first km of this last loop. But she has got the mental and plenty of energy… We caught up almost immediately with the 3rd rider and kept a good canter until I was able to see Valerie in the far. When I saw her taking a turn far away, I could count how long it took us to reach the same turn… 3 minutes… fine… It was possible for Nina… but without putting her in debt… we caught up at the water point. She didn’t want to drink… too excited. We stayed behind Valerie and the junior rider who accompanied her a few kilometers… but Nina was too strong and we passed them on the way to the second place, then we trotted for some time without knowing that the leader was so close. One or two kilometers from the finish, the leader was in sight, but it was too late. No problem, 2nd place will delight Miguel and San Andres Del Moro.

Behind us, the French couple Virginie Atger and Angel Lazes rode a good ride, making profit of the good recoveries of their horses to finish at 4th and 5th place at an average speed of 17.39kph. Pablos de Los Heros took the 9th place. In total 22 couples finished the race on 47 starters.

Today, while I’m writing this report, two qualifications rides are taking place on 80 and 40 kms. This afternoon we will head to the Haras San Andres del Moro. The plans are to visit the Pavlovsty’s haras then go bring a visit to the Haras Las Cortaderas of Claudia Quentin.

Leonard Liesens -

Photos by Caroll Gatelier Coverage Page

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