Riders react to European Eventing Champs cross-country course: Pippa Funnell — ‘it’s intense and we’ll have to be on it the whole way’

With the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Luhmühlen (28 August-1 September) in full-swing, riders have now had the opportunity to walk this year’s cross-country course, designed by Mike Etherington-Smith.

We caught up with some of the competitors to find out what they think about this year’s track…

Piggy French: “I think the course is tough. It’s a proper championship track and I think there will be problems everywhere. It’s definitely a course that you walk and have to think about really hard. You have to keep your foot to the metal here with the twists and the waters are decent — you have to make sure the jump in is good to make sure the rest comes off. I’ll think we’ll have to fight for it.”

Laura Collett: “I think the waters are the main big questions — the first one will surprise horses as they have a long gallop in the woods beforehand and they’ll almost switch off before they come to it and that really sets the tone for the whole way round.”

Michael Jung: “The water jumps are always spectacular here, but I think the questions at the end, especially if you are fighting for the time, then the horses will be more open and you will quickly have a run out. It’s very well-built with lots of different questions, but it’s very clear and fair.”

Pippa Funnell: “It’s a little bit different from the recent years of competition at Luhmühlen in that the course is going in the opposite direction and we have three very nice fences to start with and then over 1min15sec galloping through the woods uphill and then a steep downhill to the first water which will be a real question as suddenly it will hit you with all the crowds. It very technical all the way round with plenty of narrow fences — it’s intense and we’ll have to be on it the whole way. It feels as though the time will be tight too.”

Tina Cook: “I think it’s a very strong course — there are a lot of places where you could have a silly mistake. The way the fences are placed on the terrain mean that you could just meet a question slightly wrong.”

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Ciaran Glynn: “It’s technical and it seems like Mike Etherington-Smith has put questions in bunches — you have a nice run and then get two or three questions back-to-back. The main water at the Meßmer Pond is a proper question — the skinny in the water on a curving four strides from a big drop. The main arena is also a good question with a corner, table, corner combination, all curving right, four strides to three strides. And even up to the second last which is a real good double of angled hedges with an acute angle on them — horses will be getting tired by this stage, more to do with the heat than the trip.”

The cross-country gets underway at 10am (9am BST) tomorrow morning (31 August).

Check back for more updates from the Eventing European Championships in Luhmühlen all week, plus full report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 5 September).