Horse & Hound caught up with Rolex grand prix course designer Bernado Costa Cobral to find out how he intended to test the world’s top riders in the major class at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Here’s what he had to say, plus the course map and all the fences...
Today’s CSI5* Rolex grand prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show was worth €125,000 (£107,300) to the winner and Portugese course designer Bernado Costa Cobral set out to build a track that made riders earn their money.
“I put in a little bit of everything,” Bernardo said. “There’s a plank, there’s scopey questions and there’s delicate questions.”
Bernado’s agenda was to make alternating demands of “control, moving and control” in an effort to build a suitable test for some of the world’s best horse and rider combinations.
“I have asked control questions to oxers and then asked them to move to a vertical [the opposite of how riders would chose to tackle the fences],” Bernardo said.
“There’s a very floaty five strides to the double [at fence 4, which is built with narrower 10ft poles and preceded by a huge triple bar] and then you need to move a little bit to the plank [a striking and delicate gold fence at 5], which is quite tall.”
Riders then turned left to the first Liverpool fence , which was followed by the feature Rolex combination — a triple that crosses the middle of the ring.
“For the first Liverpool they need to be quite steady and then the combination is oxer, oxer, vertical, which makes them stretch — but then they need to jump the vertical [coming out],” Bernardo said.
After the triple combination, there was five short strides to another oxer  before riders swung right for a steady eight strides to the red post box vertical . Next was an oxer at 10, followed by a short distance to another vertical, the Big Ben/London skyscape fence at 11.
Riders then turned right handed again for the final line, the orange Hermes vertical at 12 followed by the last fence, another oxer, at 13.
“For the last line, horses are getting a little tired, and I have asked for six strides moving forwards,” Bernard said.
Take a virtual walk around the course with us…
Full report on the Rolex grand prix coming on HorseandHound.co.uk on Monday 5 July, plus full report on all the showjumping action at the show available in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine.
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