Eventers look to cross-country phase

October 1, 2010

The dressage phase of the eventing competition at the World Equestrian Games continues later today (NZ time) with another 39 riders, but those through that part of the competition are looking forward to Saturday's cross-country phase.


New Zealand eventers (L-R) Jonathan Paget, Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd and Clarke Johnstone.


Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express.

Among those looking ahead to the almost four-mile cross-country course, designed by Mike Etherington-Smith, is Kiwi rider Mark Todd.

"It's at maximum height and spread - it's a nice four star championship track. Grass Valley is an honest trier of a horse and hopefully he'll cope with this OK," Todd said.

He's picking team-mate Andrew Nicholson as the best chance for a medal for New Zealand and says the team will be doing everything to support him in that quest.

The course's time is set at 11 minutes and 15 seconds, and features three water complexes. One of these is jumped in two directions, making four water efforts. The ground has been watered and spiked to provide the best footing, but aside from the cross-country track, the ground is rock hard. There is no other prepared gallop area for the event horses.

Britain's William Fox-Pitt, who rode Cool Mountain to win the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in April, has described the course as a true championship track.

"It's demanding, and the terrain is tough. A few fences out there are going to cause problems. It has a similar feel to the spring [Rolex Kentucky], but I think that's more of a Mike E-S. feel.

"It will be testing, but I think the questions will be very clear to the horses and the course will reward forward riding. We know that we can have confidence in Mike's courses but it will be competitive to the very end," Fox-Pitt said.

"It's warm enough here, and the terrain is tough enough that you have to be prepared to come to Kentucky. They have to be fit."

Germany's Ingrid Klimke had a similar evaluation of the course.

"It is quite challenging. It's definitely a four-star competition, but that's why we are here. Fence 26 will be a question. It depends on how much petrol is in the tank and how your time is, if you want to take the direct route," she said.

"There are lots of alternatives but they will waste a lot of time, but if you have a proper line and proper speed it should jump well. Time will be difficult though," she said, "the course is very up and down and we will have to watch our speed.

"I think we will see some lovely rounds, but the time will be hard to make because of the hills."

Dressage leader Simone Dietermann described the 28-fence track as "very technical, but very beautiful and very fair. If you ride positively then all the distances will be positive - I like it!" she said.