Fire destroys part of historic French National Stud

A fire that broke out overnight on 11-12 July has destroyed part of the historic French National Stud of St Lo (Haras National de Saint-lo).

A statement on the Pole Hippique Saint-lo Facebook page said a rider living on site had spotted the outbreak of the fire in stable block number three at around midnight.

All 22 horses in the block were evacuated safely, with vets reporting no injuries from the blaze.

“Neighbours and professionals from around the stud all mobilised spontaneously and offered their help and the 22 horses were quickly evacuated and put safe before the spread of the fire to stable number four. No one was hurt in the disaster,” the statement said.

“All our thoughts go particularly to the two professionals whose facilities and equipment have been heavily affected by this,” the post continued. “Matthieu Laisney has lost all his equipment and [it has also impacted] Dr Hubert’s breeding laboratory.

“The momentum of solidarity and the reactivity of the agents of the stud have allowed them to find solutions… so that the economic activities of these two professionals are not interrupted.”

The post added that it wished to “salute the professionalism” of the 70 local firefighters who worked to tackle the blaze, which was brought under control by 4am.

The joint statement, issued by André Denot president of the horse pole; Hervé Morin president of the Normandy region; Marc Lefèvre president of the Manche department; Gilles Quinquenel president of Saint-lô aglo and François Brière mayor of Saint-lô said the communities were in “solidarity” and shared the “collective emotion in the face of this terrible test to overcome”.

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The 19th century stud, based in France’s “cradle” of equestrianism in Normandy, is one of the country’s largest breeding and training operations. It acts as a base for 40 stallions from seven different breeds as well as being a regional tourism destination.

The eight blocks of stables based around a central courtyard are described as a “fine example of 19th century architecture”, originally created by Napoleon to train military horses. The stud has survived previous calamities, including the WWII air raids that destroyed the town.

The stud has been closed to the public while the damage from the fire is addressed, but the Normandy horse show (5-11 August) is expected to go ahead.

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