Two elements of combination fences have been removed from tomorrow’s cross-country course for the Mars-sponsored eventing at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in deference to the weather.
The rain associated with Hurricane Florence is due to start at Tryon on Saturday evening and continue through Sunday, which has led to the eventing showjumping being postponed until Monday. Humidity is also expected to be high for cross-country day, although temperatures are forecast to be slightly lower than on the dressage days.
The fences which have been taken out of Mark Phillips’ course are 23a, the first element of the three-part Polaris Brushes, and 24b, the second element of the Hendersonville Apple Festival, the final combination on course. This was a spread fence off a turn following a roofed fence which looks like an apple.
New Zealander Jonelle Price said: “It seems a little bit silly, for me as soon as you’ve jumped fence 20 you’re pretty much bolting home. I think realistically you’re going to be making up quite a lot of time up the hill.”
Swedish rider Ludwig Svennerstal said: “I think it’s a very good course and a very fair question. For me they don’t need to take any fences out, but I don’t know about the weather — I’m sure they will make the right decision.”
Rumours flew today about possible course changes. One possibility was that the course would be shortened considerably, with horses only running partway up the the challenging hill at the end of the track. But the route and distance remains unchanged, with competitors still finishing in the main arena. The course is 5700m long with an optimum time of 10min.
Britain’s Ros Canter said: “We are happy about the hill — we selected on the basis of strong cross-country horses and are confident the horses are fit.”
Australia’s Bill Levett said that he was “100% happy” with the decision to run a full-length course.
He said: “We are all worried about the heat and humidity, but it’s meant to be cooler tomorrow. We’ve all prepared for a 10min track and that’s what we are hoping to ride round. I haven’t met a chef d’equipe who didn’t want the full distance, unless it looks like it’s going to be horrendous and the horses aren’t going to cope.”
Canada’s Selena O’Hanlon said: “I’m so happy about that [the decision to keep the course full length]. I was really disappointed they were going to shorten it. We’ve based our season on bringing really good cross-country horses and so have other nations. We are super excited we get to do it and get a chance to climb up the leaderboard.”
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Ingrid Klimke, Germany’s anchorwoman, added: “The hill is demanding, but we all knew about it and have been training for it, plus it’s been a hot summer in Germany.”
US rider Phillip Dutton said: “I think it’s the right decision — no one wants to see hard-pressed, exhausted hores, but I think riders will get out with that in mind.”
Horse & Hound has two journalists and a photographer in Tryon for WEG. Keep up to date with all the news onand in the magazine issues dated 20 and 27 September.