Too easy or tougher than it looks?

It will be a very special marathon course the 46 drivers have to attack at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on Saturday. Each will be engaged for two hours, driving over 16 kilometers in total plus one more in the cool down phase. American course designer Richard Nicoll has built eight obstacles on La Prairie Racecourse, 30 years home of trotting races. The ground is flat, without any hills or trees or other natural landscape features. At first sight many drivers likened it to competitive “indoor driving”. The well groomed ashen surface produces question marks, too.

Too easy or tougher than it looks?
© PSV Photos

We asked many drivers for their opinion. This what they said:

Ijsbrand Chardon (NED):

“Technically it has everything a good marathon needs, including water, but no ups or downs. This course asks for more speed and the speed will cause more faults. But the great advantage is that it will be the same footing for everybody, regardless of the weather or starting time.”

Koos de Ronde (NED):

“The hazards are too easy and therefore we have to be speedy which might be dangerous. The surface makes the carriage slide all over the place.”

Boyd Exell (AUS):

“I rang my supplier and made him send my indoor wheels which have special grooves for extra traction. We have fitted them and are hopefully ready to go. Apart from the water the course should not take too much out of the horses.”

Chester Weber (USA):

“A very good mix of questions, technical and regarding speed. At the first fence I wonder whether the fastest route might get a little too tight.”

Edouard Simonet (BEL):

“Tougher than it looks. I will look about ten times at each hazard. It is very technical, long, with water. The experts will give speed and we have to catch that.”

Wilf Bowman-Ripley (GBR):   

“A good course, but very different. We’ll have to go fast to make points. And nothing is easy when you have to go at it with four horses. It might look easy but it is not because it invites speed and mistakes come from that.”

Fredrik Persson (SWE):

”There are questions at every fence. It is a very special marathon regarding built, surrounding, footing. The carriage will slide and always roll forward. That is a novelty for the horses. I’ll take one horse in that is experienced at indoor driving.”

Misdee Wrigley-Miller (USA):

“The hazards look great. They are a challenge but look driveable. They are less technical then at other competitions and that will make it easier for the spectators to understand what is happening. I have never experienced level footing like this, but as the new kid on the block I will have to figure it out on the course.”

Alison Stroud (USA):

“Very good options with some tricky parts. I will look at all of them more than once. They are all small to go in and to go out. Looks like there is not a lot of room for my horses. They might fill up all the space that is there.”

Georg von Stein (GER):

„The whole length of the course will be challenging for horses and drivers. No part anywhere which is quiet. There will be people and other horses everywhere. We need to concentrate all the way and it has to be seen how the horses cope with that. They are used to having to pull at some stages. On this flat ground the carriage will be always rolling easily and some might find that unnerving.”

Michael Brauchle (GER):

“Horses and drivers will go into a tunnel and don’t notice any noises. The ground is very different from gras but elastic as well. I will use very sharp studs.”

Tomas Eriksson (SWE):

“The ground is hard and the carriage will roll very fast and be sliding. The waters have concrete on the bottom and will be slippery. I need sharp studs.”

Georgina Hunt (GBR):

“We don’t have enough big high quality driving events at home. I don’t know how the horses will react to the crowd but I will find out soon.”

Jiri Nesvacil jun – Czech Republic:

“Beautiful obstacles, nice surface and it will be very interesting for the spectators.”

Back to the news list