Italy’s Giuseppe Della Chiesa (pictured), 48, marks his senior championship course-designing debut at the 2007 European Eventing Championships at Pratoni del Vivaro (13-16 September) by introducing a new look to one of the world’s most traditional cross-country tracks.
The cross-country course was established at Pratoni for the 1960 Rome Olympics. It features the famous downhill “slide” fence, which this time will appear on the course at around fence 12. The going is typically close to perfect, thanks to the local volcanic soil, on the undulating terrain around Rome’s Centro Equestre Federale.
“The course will be quite different to previous championships at Pratoni, but it wouldn’t be Pratoni without the famous slide fence,” explained Giuseppe. “In fact, it is now a double slide, because it will go on downhill towards the old steeplechase course, which is now incorporated into the cross-country.”
This is the first championship to take place without steeplechase at Pratoni, which allows a new route incorporating the now-defunct steeplechase area. Spectators can view several fences on the course from any one point, with up to 90% of the course on view from certain points.
The water complex has undergone considerable construction work and will be negotiated three times by riders and horses. The time allowed is expected to be about 10min 30sec and will not be easy to achieve as the terrain is hilly and there are several complexes to slow riders and horses down.
“It is inviting, galloping ground, but at the test event in April, when only one rider achieved the optimum time, I warned competitors that they would still need a very fit horse,” said Giuseppe.
“The top riders have all become so technically competent that big fences are no longer enough of a test, and riders have become good at dealing with the modern accuracy fences. However, for me, today’s cross-country test is all making riders and horses tackle accuracy fences in a forward way if they are to get near achieving the optimum time. That is where the designer can play with the optimum time and find ways of slowing riders.”