‘The terrain is more intense than Burghley’: Oliver Townend comments on the Maryland 5 Star cross-country course

  • Oliver Townend has said that the terrain will play a strong part in the influence of the Maryland 5 Star cross-country course when riders tackle it tomorrow (Saturday, 16 October).

    “If you put the fences individually, they are fair and what we expect from a five-star, but add the terrain, add the pressure and it’s going to be a very tough day on Saturday,” said the British Olympic team gold medallist.

    “We always think of Burghley as the toughest terrain. When you walk Burghley, there are long pulls and you feel like you’re walking forever, but when you get to the top of Winners’ Avenue, you can get the horses breathing again and you run downhill for a long time, whereas for me this is a little more intense. It’s steep climb, drop down, steep climb, drop down, steep climb, drop down.”

    Oliver said he thinks there will be trouble at lots of different fences on Ian Stark’s track.

    He commented: “He’s put some fences in some places that I think is very brave to do. Even the Timber Rails [fence 13ab, below] are something some of us have never seen – I’ve never seen it since I’ve been eventing and it’s not been designed the last 35 or 40 years. There are very different things out there.

    “Ian was very big hero of mine, a very brave rider and he’s a brave course-designer. I have faith in him. If we do our jobs and look after our horses and ride with the terrain in mind, hopefully we can create an exciting day.”

    Maryland 5 Star cross-country course 2021: fence 13a

    Maryland 5 Star cross-country course: influential fences

    US rider Hannah Sue Burnett commented that the meat of the course is around the water at fence 15abcdef, the airy corner over a ditch at fence 17 (pictured below) and the big drop at fence 18abc down to the angled cabins (pictured top of page) at fences 19 and 20.

    Maryland 5 Star cross-country course: fence 17

    “I think those three combinations will be very influential and the terrain will play a part,” she said.

    “Luckily it’s not traditional Fair Hill weather where it’s knee deep mud – I think that’s a blessing – but I was very impressed. They’ve done such a good job on the footing and the course is beautifully presented.”

    Fellow home side competitor Lynn Symansky said: “I think Ian was pretty brilliant in using every inch of an uphill climb here in Maryland – you want to be sitting on a fit horse.

    “The course is technical, it’s bold, it’s everything a five-star should be and it has a very old-school feel to it, but also modern designs, technicality.

    “You don’t want to be pussy footing around at all. I’m excited for Saturday.”

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