Gaston Mercier “Partner” of the 160 km of Florac … a passionate story !!

Gaston Mercier “Partner” of the 160 km of Florac … a passionate story !!

Gaston Mercier will offer a saddle “Florac 2.0” to the winner of the 160 km of Florac 2018 !!

Like every year, the saddlery Gaston Mercier will also reward the rider who wins the Best Fitness Prize with a 1000 € voucher valid on a Gaston Mercier saddle.

What’s new on the race?

The 160 km returns to 5 stages, reintroducing the loop of Montmirat.

1st stage: Ispagnac-Barre (33.8km)
2nd stage: Barre-Camprieu (40km),
3rd stage: Camprieu- Chanet airfield (40km)
4th stage: Chanet-Ispagnac aerodrome (23.7km)
5th stage: Ispagnac-Ispagnac (23km)

One CEI * and two 90km Amateur (free and compulsory speed) are proposed on Thursday, September 7th, at the same time as the 120km of Ispagnac. The 140km of the 8 years has been replaced by a special classification for the 8 years in the event of 160km.

Team Gaston Mercier will welcome you to the village of 160 km from Florac in our ephemeral shop from 19 to 23 September 2018.

You have horse or rider equipment needs we will welcome you with a wide range of Gaston Mercier range. You wish to make a personalized appointment, do not hesitate to contact Marie by email: or by phone directly at the upholstery: +33 (0) 5 65 47 60 98

Birth of a Florac 2.0 !!

Florac and Gaston Mercier … a real passion … to the point of having baptized “Florac” two models of saddles !!

The 160 km of Florac … a bit of history !!

“Florac” Two syllables that sound as clear as the hooves of horses on the limestone of the Causse.


MAO IV, KREMPOLIS, MELFENIK : trois icônes réunies à Florac !

MAO IV, KREMPOLIS, MELFENIK: three icons gathered in Florac!

A name that has become synonymous with endurance all over the world, known in Australia as in Dubai, in the depths of America as in Russia. And this fame, the lozérienne city owes it to the “160 km of Florac”.


At the start of the adventure …

On one side, a brand new National Park, the Cévennes National Park, created in 1970 on a territory with fabulous landscapes and the only national park whose heart is inhabited … on the other, equestrian centers looking to develop equestrian tourism as part of a vast program of agro-pastoral development in Lozère, the least populated department in France. The almost simultaneous discovery, by a handful of riders from the great south, of the sports endurance practiced in the United States and their desire to import it into France will do the rest!

It is the year 1976 that would carry the announcement of birth of the official French endurance. And if Rodez had preceded Florac in June of that year, some horseback riding of the very young Cévennes National Park and local Equestrian Tourism guides had, from 1975, organized a two-day hike from the pass of Montmirat – one loop on Sauveterre and the other the next day to Mont Lozère. Race that had nothing official, but the desire was born and would arouse the need. Endurance starts in France as the ephemera hatches on a day of warm weather on the surface of the rivers.

In the neighboring regions: Montcuq hatched the following year, then it will be Allan in the Drôme. And as an invisible web of ties are woven between these pioneer races: the riders will run from one to the other.



The Lozer race is the oldest French endurance race still organized to date …

His rival having experienced only an event edition for the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the city of Rodez.

But at the time nobody is ready to run 160 kilometers as it is already done in the United States and Spain for many years. Also the race of Florac, which was called at the time “the Raid of the Drailles” she flirted with various distances, closer to the 100 km kilometers at the beginning, to rise in power and to reach 160 km, the famous 100 Miles of his American model, the Tevis’Cup, for the first time in 1981.

The Cévennes National Park, at the initiative of this long-distance, rather folkloric race, which he had instituted as an animation in the context of the annual Florac horse show, could not imagine that it would become a race mythical after having been the support of the first European Championship of the discipline in 1984.

For the first years, the raid brings together only a few local buffs to be measured by Letartre or Chambost who were passionate from the outset by this equestrian sports discipline outdoors.

The race brings together about thirty starters the good years. It takes off in 1979 with 79 starters! But it will be a year of all the dangers – there is only a beginning of veterinary regulation – which almost drove the discipline … but it will make evolve the veterinary regulation in the direction of a greater protection horses.



In 1982. They are only 18 riders at the start!

The soufflé of Florac falls, but the edition sounds the first victory of a local horse: Krempolis, ridden by Hubert Baeyens and property of Meyrueisien Jean Claude Maurin. This success of a son of Persik raises the machine!

The first European Championship in 1984 will not bring the number, but will boost the race which, reopened returns to more than 50 starters the following year. But 10 years after the European Championship it returns, pendulum, the figure of 30 riders, over his wanderings at Aven Armand then Sainte-Enimie.



1995 a new team from Florac claims the organization of the race.

The 160 km of Florac have become almost an issue where the political confrontation! Lozère Endurance Equestre and the team of Odile Roudière forcefully request the return of the race to Florac. They will succeed: it will be a departure from the former station of Florac and two years later, the most welcoming setting of the VVF Pont du Tarn. And from there, the victories on this very demanding and particular race are no longer the prerogative of the riders of the South: the Breton Yvon Ollivier wins the edition 96 with Shabaya al Shatane and the Northerner Vincent Dupont pulls the title of champion of France with Seskia in 1998.

We must give Florac a place on the international circuit of the highest level

In 2000 Jean Paul Baudon took over the presidency of Lozère Endurance Equestre and gave the race a new vitality with new, more ambitious and more international goals. “We need to give Florac a place on the international circuit of the highest level. He submits Florac’s candidacy for the 2007 European Championships but only gets a bone to chew on: the International Master in 2005 that will not last. But it takes more than a Lozérien to give up: the rigors of the winter which does not finish, the sharpness of the landscapes cut abruptly in the limestone or the granites forge characters! The French and international riders rediscover the 160 km of Florac and they love the new course and the Pré Morjal d’Ispagnac where they are finally at ease.

LEE re-applies in 2009 and this time it’s the right one. On April 18, 2010, the FEI awards Lozère Endurance Equestre the organization of the 15th European Endurance Championship.

The pre-ride brings together 171 horses: the absolute record on a competition in France. Horses everywhere to no longer know where to put them. All the European and even global gratin (there is an open ranking in the championship) will be at Florac 2011.

Many riders and horses owe their reputation to the Florac race. And first Persik as the first winner of the race but mostly because of its products that have won: Krempolis, Melfenik, Tex, Ratzia d’Alauze, Magida, Issane El Fayssett, Shaman.

Florac had his “specialists”. Denis Pesce who made the race fifteen times and won at least 8 times, but also many, more anonymous, who have only had the goal of finishing this race became “myth”.



They won the 160 km from Florac

Since the Florac race has been 160 kilometers, that is to say since 1981, they have been 36 couples to win, because on these 30 completed editions, some years saw exequo arrivals and several laureates – before the The EIF Regulation stipulates that there can not be more than one winning rider.

With one exception – the Englishman Katie Smith in 2005 – this difficult and special race was won only by French riders. At the beginning of the history of Florac, three riders each had two victories: first Hubert Baeyens with the legendary Krempolis (1982 and 1983) then Yves Ayme in 1983 and the 84 edition which was used to support the World Championship. Europe victory; both times with Misunderstanding; and finally Odile Dalle winner of the 1984 National with Fury and the following year with his mare Katia.

Denis Pesce, the man of Florac

The man of Florac remains without question Denis Pesce, 8 times winner of the Lozerian Classic with 5 different horses: Krempolis (2 times), Melfenik (3 times), Tex, Ratzia d’Alauze and Magida.

1997: Ratzia d’Alauze / Denis Pesce, winners, & Melfenik / Nelly Pesce, 4th

Krempolis, the HORSE of Florac

As for horses, Krempolis with 4 wins remains the King of the 160 km of Florac ahead Incompris and Melfenik, both triple winners.


Krempolis et Denis Pesce à Florac 1988

Krempolis and Denis Pesce at Florac 1988

Winners !!


  • 2016 Sunit Du Colombier et Robert Diez Noguera
  • 2015 Sunny Du Guide et Clément Marescassier
  • 2014 Major Armor et Faleh Nasser Bughenaim
  • 2013 : Kefraya Jais et Cécile Demierre
  • 2012 Easy Font Noir et Laurent Mosti
  • 2011 Kalifa et Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri
  • 2010 Shararat et Sarah Chakil
  • 2009 Al Dabaran et Morgan Payen
  • 2008 Minnie du Cambou et Sophie Watteau
  • 2007 Shaman et Cécile Demierre
  • 2006 Ganda Koy et Franck Lance
  • 2005 Orkara et Katie Smith
  • 2004 Issane El Faysset (Mukatel) et Stéphanie Arnal
  • 2003 Douar et Simon Bellot
  • 2002 Falène de la Drome (Al Wadha) Cécile Miletto
  • 2001 Fabella des Mas et Ludovic Saroul
  • 2000 Decibelle de Paute et Céline Schwartz
  • 1999 Magida et Denis Pesce
  • 1998 Seskia et Vincent Dupont
  • 1997 Ratzia d’Alauze et Denis Pesce
  • 1996 Shabaya al Shatane et Yvon Olivier
  • 1995 Orizzanese et Patrick Dionisi
  • 1994 Tex et Denis Pesce
  • 1993 Melfenik Hippomar et Denis Pesce
  • 1992 Radjani et Jérome Alonso
  • 1991 Quatiba et Geneviève Planas
  • 1990 Melfenik et Denis Pesce
  • 1989 Out Law Persik et Catherine Boisseron
  • 1988 Krempolis et Denis Pesce
  • 1987 Melfenik et Denis Pesce
  • 1986 Krempolis et Denis Pesce – Ibrahim et Magali Chambaud
  • 1985 Kamir et Françoise Rimbaud – Katia et Odile Dalle – Ibrahim et Magali Chambaud
  • 1984 2 courses parallèles avec un départ à 2 heures d’écart
    Championnat d’Europe : Incompris et Yves Aime – Melfenik et Denis Pesce
    Championnat de France : Jouvencelle et Hervé Boutonet – Fury et Véronique Dalle
  • 1983 Krempolis et Hubert Baeyens
  • 1982 Krempolis et Hubert Baeyens
  • 1981 Jalna et Jean Luc Chambost

And Gaston Mercier? will you tell me …

He does not appear in the list of winners of the 160 km of Florac that he nevertheless considers as one of the finest endurance races in the world.
Gaston has participated in 6 editions (85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90) including 5 with his famous Mao IV, he always finished in the “Top Five” and won 4 times the best condition.

Gaston Mercier et Mao IV

“I think first of all about the horse and then instead” says Gaston Mercier, finishing 2nd in the 1987 edition just before becoming European Champion

VIDEO nugget in the endurance archives … Gaston Mercier and the 160 km edition of Florac 1987 …

Erick Henry, photographer and cameraman, who has since become one of Gaston Mercier’s close associates, directed the film in 1987 in co-production with Antenne 2.