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Endurance Grand Slam “Margot Chazel, a step from the sky”

The term “Grand Slam” is often used in tennis; this word actually originates in the game of bridge to indicate the greatest win possible and requires the player to successfully contract for all 13 tricks, a seven-level contract.

In Tennis the Grand Slam is the victory of the four famous tournaments mentioned below that take place over a year:

The “Grand Slam” exists in endurance riding too, although it is not officially known, it consists of 5 races:

Tevis Cup (U.S.A.)

Tom Quilty (Aus)

Florac (Fra)

President of the U.A.E. Cup – Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.)

H.H. Sh. Mohammed Cup – Dubai (U.A.E.)

 

Microphone to Margot Chazel

 

We decided to have a little chat with Margot whose dream is to finish the 4 of them…to succeed she has to run the Tevis Cup!

 

Margot how does it feel to complete the Grand Slam of Endurance…?

I have already completed Florac in 2010, Sh. Mohammed Cup in 2016 & 2017, The Tom Quilty in 2016. I just finished the President Cup.

My first feelings are definitely pride and honour. Pride to had these wonderful races on my CV and honour, because I had the privilege to race some wonderful horses that gave me so much until the last kilometre of each race.

I ran Florac when I was 16 years old. Florac is a family story… My grand mother organized the race in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

I remember my father running it since I was very young.

To finish my first 160km there represented a memorable moment and great challenge. It was very hard, I cried under the strain but my tears were not comparable to those I shed after the final vet check.

As far as the Tom Quilty is concerned, everything was so unexpected; I always thought it would be the last of the three but my lucky star turned up… the Tom Quilty is really something else!! During the entire ride I couldn’t really realize I was running IT (except maybe when it took us 5h25 to make the first 45 km loop).

These races are so different from any other race, the confidence and empathy you develop with your horse is very strong.

At one point there is no other choice than to completely entrust one other.

The atmosphere in those races is also very different. We are all there with the aim to finish, bringing back home lifetime memories and the famous buckle.

Contrary to many beliefs the President Cup & Sheikh Mohammed Cup are very heard and very different.

I have found the President Cup even harder than the Sheikh Mohammed Cup and very challenging! Horses run 160 km in the deep sand, no one kilometre to relax.

The Tora Bora wasn’t the legendary one this year but it was still very hard and we really had to manage to keep power for the last 100 km. I had the chance to race both races with the same horse (and what a horse!!!). It was interesting to be able to compare how the same horse reacted on these two different tracks.

The Tom Quilty, was difficult because of the time you spend on the saddle (19h38) and that you have to keep the motivation to both rider and horse but the Sheikh Mohammed & President Cup are technical in the sense that you have to listen to your horses even more than usual, you also have to manage the pace, speed and track.

I really would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the Rushoz Team for giving me the chance to make this dream come true and for the amazing preparation of ESME TE.

I also want to thank my team DUBAWI STABLES for trusting me throughout the year with these amazing horses and helping me to get closer to the “Grand Slam”!

 

How did you come up with the idea of giving it a go?

It is a childhood dream. It wasn’t really a challenge until I got a phone call, after I finished the Quilty, saying that if I had finished the Tevis Cup I would have been the FIRST lady and the second rider after the UAE trainer and rider, Ali Al Jahouri to complete the five races.

Since then I got very focused and this became my goal, I am a competitor after all.

Let’s hope to meet with you again after the Tevis Cup… 2017!!

I just would like to express a few words about Torgnon, the 100+100 km race I completed in 2015. This race is also something else! It could have it place on the challenge but the Grand Slam is about 160km in ONE day… It is very hard and technical but extremely beautiful. I would recommend it to all the riders!

To finish, I wish my words would motivate some people, especially young riders to get interested by this adventure and dream about these races. You come out grown up as a rider but also as a person. It is a human adventure.

To run just to finish and not necessarily tiring the horse out… could this be the future of endurance riding?

Well, I believe there are two different types of endurance, they can’t be compared but I love them both.

There are races where you compete against other riders. The challenge is to get into the best position by respecting the limits of your horse. And there are races where you compete against the difficulty of the track…us against ourselves.

When organizing races on very technical tracks (although speed increases every year) and dealing with experienced horses, we can’t expect riders to compete “just to finish”.

 

From my point of view, we have to keep in mind the basis of our sport:

  • Compete respecting our horses’ capacities.
  • Educate and sensitize our riders to the consequences of their actions (bad and good ones of course).
  • Race against each other and not against the clock.

 

Winning isn’t always about finishing in first place.

It isn’t about beating the others. It is about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations and your fears.

“Winning means surpassing yourself and turning your dreams into reality” (Kilian Jornet, Run or Die).

 

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