Enthusiasts make Herculean efforts to get to Le Pin
An extraordinary 50,000 spectators had secured tickets to watch the thrilling contest over the hilly terrain surrounding the chateau of Haras du Pin. They arrived to late August sun (yes and no rain) and mist lying in the valley — simply stunning.
Underfoot, however, this wasn’t the place for Jimmy Choos. More sensible and study footwear was required and a huge variety of rubber boots were brought to Le Pin National Stud — traditional black or even pink flowers were spotted. You could see the whole spectrum, as well as shoppers making a beeline for their favourite Joules store to inspect the boot range.
And these thousands of spectators were treated to plenty of action and they came along to voice their support. Bearing flags of all sizes and representing 22 different nationalities they waved them frantically when a rider they were supporting galloped by.
The tumultuous sound of myriad languages all being spoken at the same time could be heard wherever you stopped. Friends were meeting again with long lost friends, or horse owners or enthusiasts had come to follow one particular rider.
Every competitor received enthusiastic support, but you always knew when a French rider was on the course.
‘Les Bleues’ were carried along on waves of loud cheering and applause as they negotiated Pierre Michelet’s track.
World Championship cross-country day at Haras du Pin was not only lengthy and interesting for the riders but for the spectators as well. Many of them walked the 6km track dotted with 35 stunning and imaginative fences.
The day was particularly long for some stalwart German enthusiasts. They had chartered two large busses to bring 150 of them to Haras du Pin, and they had commenced their journey the evening before. They were on a 40-hour-round trip.
“The return drive will a bit quieter than coming out here,” said one. “But we think that eventing is worth all the effort.”