Mike Etherington-Smith has been chosen as the designer of the cross-country course for the Olympic three-day event, the Beijing Organising Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) has announced.

Having previously designed the highly acclaimed course for the Olympic three-day event at Sydney, Etherington-Smith, 51, is more than qualified for the job. He also designs two of the world’s five four-star courses, at Kentucky (USA) and Adelaide (Australia). He is also the director and course-designer of next month’s European Eventing Championships at Blenheim and the World Cup qualifier at Chatsworth.

Etherington-Smith is the first person to be awarded the course-designer’s job at two Olympic Games. He travelled to Hong Kong earlier this year to visit Beas River Country Club, which will host the cross-country, in his capacity as advisor to BOCOG.

“This is a great surprise and honour,” he said, “I’ve been greatly impressed with the site in Hong Kong and am very much looking forward to the challenge of producing an Olympic standard course on a new site”.

The Sha Tin Racecourse and the Hong Kong Sports Institute are being used for the hub of the equestrian events, including the quarantine period. Beas River Country Club is a 20min drive away.

If Etherington-Smith’s previous projects are anything to go by, the Beijing cross country will be designed to challenge the top riders, while ensuring the less experienced can complete safely. A quartet of corner brush fences on hillocks which will be included in the cross-country at the Blenheim European Championships is just a taste of the beautiful, yet tactical, fences Etherington-Smith is renowned for.