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Yesterday I walked the majority of Saturday’s cross country course to get a feel for it and try to decide which areas are going to cause problems. So if you are attending on Saturday, hopefully this little guide will help you decide what bits to watch to see the most action.
1. ASX Starter
Simple straightforward fence to get them going in the main arena. But very iconic for a lot of new, young riders. It shouldn’t cause any problems.
2. Keepers Question
While there is nothing obviously complicated about this fence, it needs to be respected. There was a nasty fall at this ditch early on a few years ago. It has been made a bit kinder, but still a very big fence early on and could take someone off guard.
3. Little Badminton Gate
Not as inviting and forward thinking as you usually expect for this early in the course. You need to be nice and forward up the hill but collected enough for the upright. This should get the horses and riders thinking early on.
4/5 Savills Staircase
There’s a big spread to jump at the top of the hill. So you need a good forward canter before taking a big whoa to go down the steps. But then need a big push for the big spread and 5. There is a lot of change in pace in this combination and there is the chance that horses will be too strong and forward this early in the course. There is an alternative for 5.
6 Worcester Avenue Table
This is a bit easier than last time as there are less trees blocking you so you have more lines to choose from. But due to the way the track turns, a tight angle is a much faster line. So the faster riders will probably be angling this massive fence making it even wider.
7/8 Joules Corners
Very big wide corners at 75 degrees. Decoration means you have to take a very direct line or a very wide line. But these do tend to jump better earlier in the course while the horses are still full of running so shouldn’t cause too many problems.
9 Countryside Log Piles
This is one of the biggest fences on the course and is quite daunting. But it is a fairly straightforward sense and shouldn’t cause a problem this early on. There is an alternative of 2 slightly smaller log piles.
10 Shogun Sport Hollow
You have to go through the structure before the first part, which gets you really straight for the ditch and tunnels you through gap at B, making a run out easy if the horse doesn’t lock on to a fence. Part B can be jumped left or right, there is really no benefit, just what is best for your horse.
11/12 KBIS Bridge
Same as last year. A daunting looking oxer on an angle over a ditch. Where the vicarage V used to be. Alternative route available but longer and one more jumping effort.
13 Outlander PHEV Bank
Up the step to narrow brush fence. Horses need to be clever with their feet and quick thinking. Slow route available as you don’t see many tests like this so will need a smart horse and sympathetic rider allowing the horse to work their feet out. Could easily catch some combinations out!
14 Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner
Real rider frieghtener with a massive ditch. But not really a big issue for the horses at this level. Great for a photo though!
15 Hildon Water Pond
Just under half way through the course. A big drop over a log with a waterfall on the back into the pond. On the second element jumping out they will see the waterfall which some horses really didn’t like last time. But no alternative available.
16 James’s Brush
A really big run and jump fence. A nice simple fence after the water but before a complicated combination to help give them a little boost.
17/18 Mirage Water
Coming from a good gallop. Right angled corner, ditch, right angled corner. Need a small springy canter which can be hard to do after the gallop. Also horses at this level don’t see many ditches so it might take them by surprise. There is a longer alternative available
19 Nyetimber Heights
Big brush into completely blind drop into a hollow. Then over one of the 4 fences at the bottom. Lots to confuse the horse and the angles of the fences at the bottom aren’t very inviting!
20 Feedmark Haywain
A nice little relax fence after some complicated combinations before the lake. A very traditional fence that we see most years.
21/22/23 YoungMinds Brushes
3 big brushes on different angles. A bit wiggly to try and help you get your horse focused before the lake. It shouldn’t really cause a problem.
24 World Horse Welfare lakeside
Big table heading out into the lake with water running across the top of it, which might bother some horses. But they will have already seen a similar effect at the Hildon pond, so hopefully it shouldn’t be a problem. It is a big fence coming off a bit of a tight turn but shouldn’t cause too much trouble.
25 The Lake with L200s
This iconic area comes up 3/4s of the way round the course and should really test the riders. Longer route much more following and clearer to the horse. Quick route very sharp turn and everything comes up quite quickly. But less jumping efforts on the quick route.
26 Wadworth Lower Lake
Nice fence out of the lake to jump. Worked very well on the open last year but having it coming out the water makes it a bit more interesting. Should jump well and look fantastic.
27 Trade Stands Hedge
A simple run and jump fence. There will be quite a bit of decoration, but should jump nicely.
28 Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close
You come round a corner to a mass of birch rails. So it can be confusing to see exactly what you need to do and where you are going. The longer route is much kinder and may be what horses need this late in the course. There are usually some issues here.
29 Eclipse Cross Chicane
Shouldn’t cause too much trouble. But the fast route you really need to angle the first one. Plus the ditch on the second element really pushed the horse off the line. Longer route gives you much better lines but is a decent bit slower.
30 HorseQuest Quarry
Massive drop the horse can’t see before he jumps it. Direct route much steeper and needing a tighter balanced line. Longer route slightly shallower slopes and more time to reorganise.
Choose your element for both A and B. No real benefit either way, probably ground will be the main factor.
32 Rolex Trunk
A bit of a wriggly route there. But other than that just a big but straightforward fence before heading into the arena
33 Mitsubishi Final Mount
A simple fence to finish with. But as seen in previous years, a tired horse can still make mistakes here!
The course as a whole
Your horse has to be able to think for themselves to do well round this course. The rider can only do so much when it comes to the fast routes, only a smart quick thinking horse can tackle all the fast routes successfully.