Agen racecourse, which has been awarded for its respect for the environment and animal welfare

“A green and healthy environment in the heart of the agglomeration” is the declared goal of Jean-Philippe Semeillon, President of the Sports Company of the Agenais Races. The racecourse, whose structure he presides over, is nestled between the Upsa factory and La Garenne airport in the Passage-d’Agen. The idea is not new.

“A green and healthy environment in the heart of the agglomeration” is the declared goal of Jean-Philippe Semeillon, President of the Sports Company of the Agenais Races. The racecourse, whose structure he presides over, is nestled between the Upsa factory and La Garenne airport in the Passage-d’Agen. The idea is not new.

Slurry, certainly not very glamorous, but has become a resource on the racetrack thanks to a partnership with a methanizer in Astaffort.
Slurry, certainly not very glamorous, but has become a resource on the racetrack thanks to a partnership with a methanizer in Astaffort.

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But this EquuRES label, designed specifically for equine structures, rewards the approach. A dual approach. In terms of the environment, but also in terms of animal welfare. The label has three levels: “Commitment”, “Progress” and “Excellence”. “Today we are not far from the second level,” says Jean-Philippe Semeillon. All the more proud that it is the first racecourse in the Greater South-West (New-Aquitaine and Occitania) to be registered with this label, surpassing Bordeaux and Toulouse. “At the national level, 15 racecourses are marked. There are a total of 158 equestrian structures and events. This label was awarded at the end of February.

A lake for watering

“The approach seemed important to us because we are already doing a lot in this area,” explains the President. There is in fact the Arboretum, created eight years ago, with its hundreds of species of trees and shrubs. For the past ten years, the roof of the racetrack has also boasted photovoltaic panels.

The racetrack arboretum, a hundred species of trees and shrubs, is one of the ecological strengths of the structure even before the label was awarded.
The racetrack arboretum, a hundred species of trees and shrubs, is one of the ecological strengths of the structure even before the label was awarded.

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Then there’s the water resource to essentially irrigate the sand track. To this end, at the heart of the 22-hectare site, at the center of the circuit’s loop, is a lake. Ducks, herons and coots rule there. But it is a resource for casting. “And when the track is drained, part of the water flows back into the lake,” explains site manager Eliette Debono.

“Only 15 racecourses are marked nationally”

Another advance is the reduced use of pesticides. Replaced by weapons. “So it’s not just a question of the price of these products,” but a story of wanting to make a step forward. In fact, “only five or six points were missing to meet the first level of the label”. Among them an essential point: the treatment of liquid manure. The latter slept at the entrance to the site next to the horses trained on site. “We’ve contracted a methanizer,” near Astaffort. Since then, the manure has been converted into energy every five to six weeks.

The regulated whip

The label includes the aspect of animal welfare in its criteria. “What drives us again is our love of horses. A horse that is not doing well, that is not happy, will not achieve good results,” affirms the President. In addition, these criteria have long been taken into account, from the pits to the circuit.

The lake in the heart of the Rennschleife serves as a water resource.  The drainage of the land allows a large part of it to be recycled.
The lake in the heart of the Rennschleife serves as a water resource. The drainage of the land allows a large part of it to be recycled.

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“Indeed, regulations regularly evolve in this direction. Jockeys or drivers who abuse the whip will be penalized. “Because the blows are counted” and the arm must not be placed over the rider’s shoulder. It’s a request, not a blow,” stresses the President. Today, the Agen-La Garenne racetrack continues this project, “in constant evolution, it is also a social requirement”.

Next challenge: work on the premises for the provision of straw, hay, to limit travel, for conservation, to be emphasized again… “The aim of the game is for other structures to follow suit. »

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