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Cross-country still a massive test despite fence removal

Every event rider competing at the World Equestrian Games is convinced that Pierre Michelet’s cross-country course will exert a massive influence on the competition despite the recent removal of two fences — number 20 and fence 23 — and the consequent slight shortening of the track, which now measures 5,982m (previously 6,500m). The optimum time has been reduced from 11 minutes 30 seconds to 10 minutes 30 seconds.. Here is what riders have told us over the last two days:

 

Cross-country still a massive test despite fence removal
© PSV Photos

William Fox-Pitt: “There are many questions without anything particular standing out [as being the hardest fence]. However, the castle fence with the shields where there is an ambiguous distance to the ditch [fence 11, Les Guerriers De Guillaume] could catch some out, while the waters are really demanding. But I think the effect will be cumulative and in this ground I believe some horses will finally come up with the wrong answers.”

Andrew Nicholson: “I think it’s a very fair course but such a pity for the organisers that it has rained so much.”

Mark Todd: “It is a big and long track that is hilly and wet. This is definitely not going to be a dressage competition. By the end of the day after 80-plus horses the going will be pretty cut up. Going early may turn out to be a lucky draw.”

Sandra Auffarth: “There is question after question with tricky and narrow fences.”

Tim Price: “It’s a beast of a thing.”

Ingrid Klimke: “It’s a true four-star but we didn’t expect anything else because this is a World Championships.”

Tina Cook: “It’s beautifully built. I’ve always admired Pierre Michelet’s technique of terrifying riders. There are so many places where horses and riders will be tested to the maximum. Everyone will be tested, whoever you are.”

Jock Paget: “It’s a big track and the hills will tire horses. It’s going to be an exciting day.”

Joseph Murphy: “When I walked it I realised that I wasn’t going to get too upset about what happened in the dressage!”

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