Course-designer Ian Stark has been very innovative with the route for the cross-country for the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair.
Regular visitors to the Scottish site will notice that the track goes in a completely different direction to the usual challenge. It starts in a different place, takes in fresh ground and offers new ways of tackling old problems — for example, at the water at fences 11ab/12ab horses and riders go through the pond in the opposite direction to normal.
Here’s the start box, branded for title sponsor Longines.
Fence 1: Longines Flower Display
Fence 2: Mitsubishi L200s
After fence 2, horses and riders start climbing from the flat of the showground up into the hills. They keep going upwards until fence four, when they start to run back downhill.
Fence 3: Kilchoman Whisky Barrels Spread
Fence 4abc: House of Bruar Shepherds’ Bothies
Fence 5: British Horse Society Scotland Olympic Diamond
After fence 5, competitors take a helter-skelter track through the wood.
Fence 6: Wychanger Barton Post & Rails Gate
Fence 7: The Toro Company Leaf Pit Drop
Fence 7 (side view)
Fence 8ab: Voltaire Design Hanging Logs and Water Splash
Fence 8a alternative
Fence 8b alternative
Fence 9: Bedmax Silver Birch Oxer
Another section in woodland follows fence 9.
Fence 10: MAM Construction Wind Blown Tree
Fence dressing detail on the back of fence 10
Fence 11ab: Longines Lochan
Fence 12ab: Longines Fisherman’s Dream
Fence 12ab alternative
The next fence is a let-up after the challenges of the water — but there is still a sharp uphill pull to reach it.
Fence 13: Equine & Country Picnic Table
Fence 14ab: Atholl Estates Castle Wall and Cannon
Fence 14b alternative
Fence 15: Pol Roger Stag Heads
After this fence competitors run back down onto the showground and into the main arena.
Fence 16ab: UK Sport Corners
Fence 16a right side
Fence 16a left side
Fence 17: Joules Brush Arrowhead
Fence 17b alternative
Fence 18ab and 19ab: Gilkes Firth of Forth Crossings and The Malcolm Group Lochan and Corner (fly through video of this fence at top of page)
Looking over fence 18a to fence 18b
Fence 18b alternative
Looking over fence 18b to fence 19ab
Fence 19a alternative
Fence 20: Baileys Horse Feeds Aintree Steeplechase Fence
This fence is by the start, so horses may feel like they have finished. However, they are off on another long pull uphill to fence 21ab/22.
Fence 21ab/22: Albert Bartlett Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
Looking over fence 21a to 21b
Looking over fence 21b to fence 22
After this fence, horses and riders are on the final run home and there are no more serious hills to climb.
Fence 23/24ab: Irish Horse Gateway Rails and Ditch Complex
Fence 23 alternative
Looking over fence 23 to fences 24ab
Fence 25: Clark Thomson Trakhener
Fence 26: EventScotland Hanging Keyhole
Fence 26 side view
Fence 26 alternative
Fence 27/28: Strzegom 2017 Offset Brushes
Looking over fence 27 to fence 28
Fence 29: Longines Final Fling
Full report from the European Championships at Blair in H&H next week, out Thursday, 17 September — 19 pages of analysis and photographs, plus columns from Harry Meade and Mike Etherington-Smith.