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Small town in Jura set to become Swiss horse capital

Show jumping is one of the attractions at the fair

(Keystone Archive)

The traditional three-day horse traders' fair and festival, "Marché Concours", begins on August 10 in the town of Saignelégier in canton Jura. The star of the show is the local Franches-Montagne breed.

Around 400 horses are paraded in front of tens of thousands of curious spectators and discerning buyers during the fair.

The Franches-Montagne horse is one of three recognised and promoted by the federal government as a Swiss breed. It's also one of the last lightweight draught horses still bred in Europe.

The Marché Concours gets under way Friday evening, but the main attractions are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, when the award-winning animals will be judged and presented to the crowds.

There will also be a series of horse and horse-drawn wagon races on both days, and a parade through the streets of Saignelégier on Sunday morning.

Switzerland's national exhibition, Expo.02, which is being staged on the nearby lakes of Biel, Neuchatel and Murten, will take pride of place at this year's fair.

Visitors to the Jura region at any other time of the year have the opportunity to observe the horses as they run seemingly wild through the hills.

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