The main arena of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly CSI1* 2* and 5* Show is situated right in front of The Great Stables built by architect Jean Aubert between 1719 and 1736 for Louis-Henri de Bourbon-Conde. This truly breath taking building is the perfect backdrop for the arena - talk about location, location, location!
The Great Stables were built to accommodate 240 horses, 500 hounds and 23 carriages and are considered to be the most beautiful in Europe.
From the Renaissance with the Montmorency family then to the 17th and 18th century with the Conde family, Chantilly is the absolute reference for Hunting. Daily hunting expeditions took place in the forests bordering Chantilly and Kings and Princes from all over Europe came to hunt at Chantilly and to send their Masters of Foxhounds to copy the hunting of the Conde family.
In 1833 by a stroke of luck four friends on the way back from hunting improvised a race on the grass field which separated the forest from the Great Stables. The winner Monsieur de Normandie attracted by the quality of the site and the elasticity of the turf had found the perfect place to organise races and in 1834 a racecourse in front of the Great Stables on that very same grass field was developed. In 1836 the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and in 1843 the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) were created according to the model of our Derby and Oaks run at Epsom.
Today, Chantilly has the biggest and most functional race horse training facilities in Europe. It represents 1900 hectares, of which there are 4 training grounds, 120 hectares of turf tracks, 120 km of sand tracks much of these are within 47 km of the original Forest. There are 12 km of 'obstacle', tracks and over 80 trainers and 2600 thorougbreds with about 4000 horses in total involved in either racing, polo, equestrian sports or for recreational riding within the area.
We could not resist having a look inside the Great Stables, part of which is now a museum which is located in some of the 23 garages for carriages! Quite a few of the stables are still in use and even though it was 33 degrees outside, we went inside, to discover that the enormous height of the building kept its current occupants - which included three shetland ponies - very cool indeed.
I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite so beautiful and to top it all Skye was placed in both the International CSI2* classes that she competed in today with Aresse M and Full Monty.