Riders have welcomed the news that Frenchman Pierre Michelet will design the cross-country course for the 2016 Olympics in Rio — despite the unconventional method by which he was chosen.

Pierre, who designs the four-star course for Pau in France, is renowned for his unique style.

“His courses are quite gutsy,” Lucy Wiegersma told H&H. “They are distinctive for their acute angles and long distances.

“Most riders will now be looking to give their horses the experience of jumping around his courses.”

As well as Pau CCI4*, Pierre designs the courses for the CICO3* at Fontainebleau and the World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers.

A controversial factor in Pierre’s selection is that he has already been chosen to design the course for next year’s World Equestrian Games (23 August-7 September).

“It is a slight concern that he is doing the World Equestrian Games and the Olympics,” said Sir Mark Todd.

“But they are such different terrains that they will feel like very different courses. He has lots of flair.”

The FEI has not officially confirmed that Pierre has been selected, but the appointment was revealed by H&H columnist Mark Phillips in his comment (31 October).

Pierre’s selection appears to have happened in confusing circumstances. Mark revealed that neither himself nor Derek di Grazia were able to get to Rio before 14 October as the FEI requested. Rüdiger Schwarz, who was also on the FEI shortlist, was never contacted. As a result, the French designer appears to have had been selected as a matter of course.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (21 November 2013).