The 160 km of Florac: a mythical race for its difficulty but also for the beauty of the landscapes crossed. Causses and Gorges, Cevennes and Mont-Aigoual succeed each other under the hooves of the thoroughbreds.
Report for France 3 Occitanie: O. Le Piver and Y. Le Teurnier
In 9h and 31mn and 16.7 km average, the Belgian Elisabeth Hardy and her horse Helwa win the 160 km of Florac 2018.
Selected with the top 5 horses arrived in the first hour, she also wins the prize for the best physical condition.
Belgian national, Elisabeth Hardy, 24, lives and trains in the north of France. She has been riding since the age of 6 and started endurance at age 8 over 20km.
Hello Elizabeth and Congratulations !! for this magnificent race … Why do you endurance?
Endurance is a discipline that suits me completely. It’s a challenge at every race, between rider, horse and nature. Being able to understand the horse and manage your effort for a whole day is really the thing I love. But above all the preparation of the horse for such events is something that fascinates me!
Tell us about Helwa …
Helwa is a mare that I train for 2 years. She is a mare who does not show much in training but who shows up in the race, especially on the slope!
How was your race?
It was the first 160km of the mare but I was 2nd year on the 120km and I thought it was really her race. I left in the lead group while staying a little behind on the track. I really listened, when she wanted to blow I slowed down. That’s why at the top of the Aigoual I let other competitors leave. But she’s so good-hearted that I’ve caught up with veterinary control. The last loop she knew of last year, and I did the same, I let it do. She has everything to trot, and it is a mare that goes down very well …. Helwa has an extraordinary mental racing and that’s what made it win!
You win the 160 km of Florac but also the best condition, it’s quite rare … how do you explain that?
The mare is very strong and has a great metabolism. She shows nothing, always true to herself, she has all the qualities to gain endurance! It’s great to be able to win the best condition in Florac and see it right as an I the day after one of the toughest races in the world.
What will your next races be?
I still have some qualifying races this year but nothing very important. I come back from Slovakia where we win the 7 years old world championship. My season ends beautifully !!
You will come back to defend your title next year in Florac?
I will come back to Florac if I find the horse for, which is not obvious, they are special horses for this kind of race … I do not think to hand over Helwa, she has nothing more to prove here .. Other challenges are waiting for him now!
The saddlery Gaston Mercier Official Partner of the endurance of Florac. Manuel Mercier offers a saddle Florac 2.0 to the winner Élisabeth Hardy
Mathieu Lebourlot, rider Gaston Mercier, climbs on the second step of the podium of the 120 km !!
Mathieu Lebourlot, endurance rider for 10 years has, for 1 year, created his endurance horse training company. Based in the Gard, he also develops a breeding part “El Nedj’ma”. His horse “Velika al Mounira” is an Anglo with 92% of Arab aged 9 years.
Hello Mathieu and congratulations for this magnificent 2 nd place in the 120 km of Florac. How was the race?
Departure in calm in a group composed of experienced riders whose initial goal was not necessarily to play a podium but especially to return the horses to the best of their forms. That’s why all day long we take turns taking turns.
During “vets gates” the mare goes almost instantly with great recovery time.
Departure of the last loop we leave 7th Velika and me. Until we realized that the first ones were lost and that we had a nice playing card …
With other riders, we decided to put a little more train in Montmirat. During one of my relays I realized that we were no more than 3 riders in mind at the top of Montmirat.
Then, we just had to ensure the descent and control the return of our pursuers. Something done since with Velika, we finish on the second step of the podium. I want to thank Velika for this great race.
Why are you running with a Gaston Mercier Margeride 2.0?
The Margeride is a saddle is super comfortable for the rider on flat ground or in races with elevation. Never tired or muscle pain.
What was the impact of the Margeride on your 2nd place?
I think the Margeride offers Velika a lot of freedom in his back and front. Just look at his release at a gallop.
Mathieu, when will the 160km of Florac?
The 160km of Florac remain for me a dream to which I work every day to be able to concretize it one day.
I think that given what the mare showed us this year on the 120km, except injuries and other external factors, it is likely to find it next year on this legendary race.
What is the continuation of your program?
Logically and if everything goes as planned, I would participate with Velika al Mounira at the 2 X 76 in Barcelona in December. As for the rest of my season I may go on the 120 km of Tartas and then Salin de Giraud on the 90 km with “Albertine de la Haye”, farmer of the farmhouse Mas to Manuel Mercier.