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Another Fishy tale! or The British Bid for the Route du Poisson 2003

This is Hilton Herbs second Route du Poisson and the third time the company has sponsored the British Heavy Horse Driving team. Company directors Tony and Hilary Self just can't wait to get their feet on to the backstep of the marathon vehicle, offer the team the benefit of their endurance experience and cheer them onto victory.

The finishing touches have been put to the FEI marathon vehicle and the brass on the 18th century horsedrawn Fire Engine has been given a final polish, ( more of this later)!

The last piece of harness has been polished and hung up in the HGV tractor trailer unit and two spotless Percheron Heavy Horses have been carefully loaded. Chef d'equipe Rowena Mc Dermott and her husband John are on their way to Dover to join the rest of the British Heavy Horse Driving Team for the short trip across the Channel to France.

For Rowena and John this will be the 4th time they have participated in the famous 24 hour relay race that re-enacts the route taken by the dray horses when transporting fresh fish from the coast to the Paris markets.

This year15 teams of 20 horses from all over Europe will travel over 270 kilometres from Boulogne sur Mer to the famous Vincennes racecourse in Paris. In addition to the relay each team is required to field horses that compete in the "specials", these are tests of skill that can range from pulling a 500kg wooden fishing boat across the beach in Boulogne, to manoeuvering a large double decker charabang through a series of hazards!
An additional highlight this year will be an attempt to beat the World Record for the greatest number of horses harnessed to a vehicle! Each team will supply 10 horses and the aim is to have 150 heavy horses harnessed to one vehicle!!

To help the British team keep the horses in peak condition throughout the event, seasoned international vets Sarah Coombs and Rod Fisher have hot footed it over to France straight from the European Equestrian Championships in Ireland where they were part of the international veterinary panel. Both of them agree that despite weighing a minimum of 750 kgs the heavy horses have to be " endurance fit" in order to successfully complete their legs of the relay and finish with the required pulse rate of 80 bpm within 5 minutes of finishing.

Oh and the Fire Engine! this machine drawn by the Mc Dermotts 4 Percherons caused such a stir when they paraded through Le Toquet at the beginning of the 2001 "Fish Run" that the organisers have asked for it to lead the parade around the Vincennes Racecourse at the end of this years event.


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