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At the heart of the Pompadour racecourse (Corrèze), training center for racehorses

The Pompadour racecourse in Corrèze has the particularity of being able to be used as a training center for racehorses. Thus, apart from the official races, it is not uncommon to see horses galloping on its tracks opposite the castle.

Fabien Lagarde, public trainer for 15 years

Fabien Lagarde, the oldest of the two current public trainers on the Corrèze site (holder of a license authorizing him to train horses from different owners), has his horses work there every morning.

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“This season, I am training twenty horses from different owners, I am in charge of their physical preparation for the races; I am in fact a service provider, explains this former jockey. I have three employees, two training riders and a jockey, who ride the horses almost every day. We have a little slowdown from December to February, because only the racecourses of Pau and Cagnes-sur-Mer offer races all year round. »

From the private stables where the horses are housed, the riders leave every morning, taking them up to the racecourse to prepare them for all types of races: flat, obstacles, cross country and steeplechase.

The owners entrust their horses to the public trainer for the season.

The daily work of horses, true athletes

For the trainer who has been living in Pompadour for fifteen years out of love for the region, “racehorses are real athletes; they have to work every day, so we set aside an hour a day for them: today, for example, we train them on the flat, tomorrow it will be a big day because they are going to jump and the day after tomorrow it will be a walk. »

“The Pompadour racecourse is quite atypical because it is hilly, which requires specific physical conditions for the horses, which must be able to face significant differences in altitude”, specifies Marine Vilbourg, director of the Pompadour racing company to whom the coaches pay a membership fee to use the racetrack.

At Fabien Lagarde, the horses arrive stripped, “younger and younger, from two years old for thoroughbreds and from 3 years old for Anglo-Arabs. In winter, when it’s calmer, we take the opportunity to take care of the foals we train. Not all are made to be racehorses?! “And those who are not efficient enough for the races” are redirected by a retraining association to other disciplines, reassures Marine Vilbourg. Animal welfare is also monitored. »

If there’s an age limit to start, “there’s no age limit to winning?!” The oldest horse in the center to win a race was 14, continues Fabien Lagarde. This mare, 11-year-old Flora Dumont, has been racing at Pompadour since she was two years old. »

Increasingly tough competition

For the official races at Pompadour, the season of which begins on May 29, it is the jockey employed by Fabien Lagarde who rides the horses. “I can call on other jockeys via France Galop: they don’t necessarily know the horses, they ride them at a moment’s notice, but they can find out beforehand by watching the video of the races in which they took part. »

Jockey himself for fifteen years before his retraining, Fabien Lagarde saw the evolution of the profession.

The horses go faster and faster, are more powerful than before. This is due to the improvement of genetics and the upstream work carried out on breeding.

The competition is also increasingly tough: “In France, there are five big coaches to whom 70% of the allowances for the races are distributed, regrets Fabine Lagarde. They have nearly 200 horses each with forty to fifty employees. These big stables smother the others. It would be necessary, as in Japan, to limit the maximum number to 70 horses. For little ones like me, it’s complicated: I have to be at 120%… But that’s sport?! »

Schedule. In 2022, eleven days of racing are planned on the racecourse, made up of an average of seven events, including at least one cross-country, with generally six to seven participants. The season resumes on May 29, Mother’s Day, where admission will be free for moms and their kids; The other dates are: July 3, 14, 17, 24 and 31?; August 6, 15, 21 and 28?; and September 4. Admission: €6.

Pompadour’s situation brings some advantages to the local trainer: “Food is cheaper than in the Paris region?; I can take part in eleven races on the spot therefore without spending travel expenses?; and above all my horses know the terrain well?! »

Bringing the racecourse to life all year round

Apart from Fabien Lagarde, another public trainer, Elisabeth Bassière, installed two months ago, as well as freelancers who have a training permit, use the structures of the racecourse: “There are about ten regular Corréziens , says Marine Vilbourg.

Discover the program for the 2022 tourist and equestrian season in Arnac-Pompadour (Corrèze)

Apart from training for the races, endurance horses are brought in to do several laps of the tracks; others to train for eventing?; riders also come to run their horses just for fun. We mix sport, racing and pleasure to bring the racecourse to life all year round and maintain the site. »

Photos: Stephanie Para; text: Christine Moutte

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