Whether it’s sailing over cross-country jumps at Bromont or drunkenly smashing into them at Luhmühlen, you never know what’s going to happen next when you lead an opinionated stuffed animal into the start box.
Such was the case during last year’s Richland Park H.T., when Chinch demonstrated that in addition to being a schmoozy, outgoing public figure, he also possesses stealthy ninja skills. Today he was back up to his sneaky ways; see if you can find him lurking in each course walk photo — heaps of EN karma to anyone who can spot them all!
A few points of note before we set out on course:
This year’s CIC3* course is precisely the track riders will be looking for in advance of their autumn CCIs. In classic Ian Stark fashion, it’s a big, open, galloping gauntlet that will reward the riders who are coordinated enough to think and kick at the same time. Those who get the job done will be rewarded with horses who come off course feeling confident and ready to grab the rest of their season by the horns.
The reward for NOT getting the job done, on the other hand:
The first combination shows up one jump earlier than it did last year, a log to triple-brush bending line at #3AB, and should be a nice introduction to the more technical combinations on course. After a brush to brush downhill combination at #4AB, there’s a job-well-done oxer at #5, then the first water at #6ABC — a log on a mound to a double of corners in the water — which should prove influential.
The sunken road at #9, #10AB and #11 is the next serious question, with a bounce down, a stride across, and the imposing #10 corner coming up fast on the other side, a take-no-prisoners test of straightness.
A few galloping fences later, Ian has dug out the takeoff of the keyhole at #14 for a fun ditch-and-wall twist.
The double of corners at #16AB will require an accurate ride, of course, while riders should be able to gallop on to the offset ditch/rails at #18AB thanks to the combination’s well-defined ground lines. The final two combinations, the #21 to #22ABC water complex, and the offset cabins at #24AB, will ensure that nobody lets their guard down at the end of the course.
Also of note, fence #23 is a touching tribute to Philippa Humphreys, a table painted in her colors. Being a Michigan eventer, her memory is on everyone’s hearts here at Richland. Her family and friends have been in attendance, embracing the sport that meant so much to their lost loved one, and Philippa’s horse Rich N Famous is being ridden in the CIC2* by Megan O’Donoghue.
The fence is fitted with a frangible device usually applied to upright rail fences, but in this case incorporated into the back of the table. It’s a novel concept woven into the jump’s construction by course builders Bert Wood and Jay Hambly, designed to give way should a horse run into trouble atop the fence. Bert sees it as a safer alternative to collapsable tables, which may give way and cause more trouble than it aims to prevent should a horse bank the fence.
“Of course,” Bert notes, “we hope we won’t have the chance to see whether it works or not tomorrow.” Regardless, we applaud their action-forward effort toward creating a safer sport.
Today the going is super, having well soaked up the splashes of rain we got yesterday. While the sun is bright and warm today, tomorrow’s forecast is looking a bit chancy, with a 60% chance of rain around noon when the CIC3* runs. The CIC3* is followed by Advanced, with the CIC1*, CCI2*, CIC2* and Prelim horse trials divisions running cross country on Saturday as well. The remaining Novice and Training divisions go cross country on Sunday.
Alright, you furry figment of EN’s collective imagination, let’s play some CIC3* hide-and-go seek: