WEG cross-country length at risk as weather hits groundworks

The length of the cross-country course at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) may have to be shortened, which could have an impact on team selection.

The FEI has confirmed that with some seven weeks until WEG starts (11-23 September) work on the course, at Tryon International Equestrian Center, US, is ongoing “as there is an area on the course that has been impacted by recent heavy rain”.

Course-designer Mark Phillips told H&H: “The plan is to run the full 5,700m, but it’s dependent on whether we have the footing to be able to finish the course in the main arena, which as of yesterday [Thursday, 26 July], we didn’t.”

The plan is to run the course across an area due to host the driving competitions and the endurance vetgate, which will have an all-weather surface, but this suface is not yet in place. The course will then run on to grass for a further 400m or so and then back onto an all-weather surface in the main arena, where the course will finish.

“There has to be something there if we are going to have a successful Games, because if there’s nothing, I’m not sure what endurance and driving are going to do,” said Mark. “So for now we have to assume we will be running the full 5,700m, but the final decision is being taken on 10 August before the nominated entries deadline on 13 August.”

Mark also told H&H that as of this evening (Friday, 27 July), all the turf has been laid so the only area of ground preparation still to do is the all-weather in the driving and endurance area.

Equestrian Australia named its eight-strong shortlist for WEG this week but announced it would wait for confirmation on the course to cite which will be the five travelling combinations and which the three reserves.

In a statement, the federation said: “As the FEI have recently advised us that there may be some fairly significant changes to the length of the cross-country course; this may have an impact on our selection tactics and so we are awaiting final notification before we select the five combinations to represent Australia at Tryon.”

Mark added that it is possible the course may be shortened nearer cross-country day for other reasons; the ground jury has the power to make it shorter in extreme temperatures and humidity.

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An FEI spokesman said: “Work on the cross-country footing at Tryon is ongoing as there is an area on the course that has been impacted by recent heavy rain. This may have a bearing on the length of the course but will not affect the technical difficulty of the track.

“A final decision on this will be made before the nominated entries deadline of 13 August, allowing national federations to name their final selections. Definite entries for eventing are on 3 September.”

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