Trainer Magazine

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Postcard from Senonnes, the training track near Nantes and Angers

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Situated in France in the Mayenne region (not far from Nantes and Angers), Senonnes is a training centre in full development. There are 24 trainers and 450 horses. Some horses you may know have been trained here, for example: - Kauto Star (trained by Serge Foucher) he won 2 Group 3 races in Auteuil in 2004 (Prix Jacques d’Indy and Prix de Longchamp) and was placed in other group races (2nd in the Prix Cambaceres, 5th in the Pepinvast and 3rd in the Prix Amadou) before it was sold in England;

- Trésor de Mai (trained by Laurent Viel) he won 4 steeple-chases and was placed 3 times (5th in Auteuil in 1998 in Prix  Bayonnet) before leaving for England.

The training centre as it is now opened in 2001. It was the idea of a trainer (C Rouget), who is the vice-president of the trainers’ association) and of the ex-President of Senonnes racecourse (H Malard) and of a local politician (J Beline). It is nowadays directed by an associative structure of voluntary workers (the CERGO), this consisted of 4 persons (G Nicol being the president); 2 people maintain the tracks permanently.

The centre was constructed for both flat and jumps trainers. The 40 hectare site includes, a 2200 m deep sand track, 2 lighter sand tracks of 2000 meters and a 2100 meter grass gallop. There is also a round schooling ground on the sand (1000 meters), which includes 8 hurdles on the inside and 8 steeple-chase fences on the outside. Fences include an oxer, a brook, a wall, an English fence, a bullfinch hurdle as well as cross-country jumps on the grass. 
Trainers can also use several canters, a trotting track, an arena (4 hurdles) and starting gates.

The geographic situation of Senonnes is very good because there are over 50 racecourses within a 100km radius and the area has excellent motorway links. Paris is just 3 hours away. If we travel a horse to a France Galop course, they will even reimburse some of our transport costs!

The local economic environment is also interesting with banks and bookkeepers nearby, a very good veterinary clinic (at Meslay-du-Maine), as well as several apprentice-jockey schools. We are well catered for our supplies as we have many local farmer-producers who sell us straw, hay, oat at very reasonable rates. All the trainers at the centre get on well together and help each other.

Whilst our centre might not be the same as some of the bigger centres outside Paris it offers trainers the opportunity to train horses without the higher costs of training at a large centre.