Horse & Hound's eventing editor Pippa Roome brings you pictures of every fence on the course, and shares her thoughts on the challenges being faced by horse and rider
Take a virtual course-walk round the cross-country track at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) with our complete set of course photos.
The WEG cross-country at Haras du Pin is the brainchild of Pierre Michelet, the renowned French designer who is also responsible for the tracks at Pau, Saumur and Fontainebleau, among others.
H&H eventing editor Pippa Roome’s thoughts on the course
- This is a long course. The optimum time is unconfirmed, but rumoured to be around 11min 30sec, which is pushing at the maximum distance for four-star.
- There’s a lot of terrain. Not big hills, but much like Gatcombe and Bramham, you are always on a camber and having walked it, I can confirm it’s exhausting.
- The going will play a big part. The ground is already very soft and it’s still raining.
- The course has quite a lot of loops round fields and back out again. Near the end, you go through the final water (fences 30/31) and feel like you’re on the way home, then have to turn away again. This could be disheartening for tired horses and riders will need to keep their enthusiasm up.
- This is a creative course, with interesting features such as the big drop before an arrowhead into water (fence 9) and the angled skinny ditch (fence 11).
- Pierre Michelet has asked the question for which he is so well known several times — opening horses up over a big fence and then tempting them with a forward distance to a skinny, perhaps on a curving line. A good example is the question at fences 21/22, where a big hedge and ditch is followed by a triple brush arrowhead and a corner, all on a right-handed turn.
- The water fences will be influential — there are three of them, all of which look tricky.
- There are quite a few plain fences between the difficult complexes — I expect most problems to be grouped at four or five combinations, although plain fences could also cause problems as the course takes its cumulative toll.
- There’s a lot of brush on the top of fences, adding height, which will mean extra effort for the horses.
- Did I mention it’s going to be muddy? Very muddy.