Once again designed by Eric Winter and beautifully built and presented by David Evans and his crew, this year’s Blenheim International CCI3* course asks plenty of questions, and that coupled with an enormous field stacked with quality means the winner, heck the top ten, even twenty, come Sunday night can consider themselves in a very elite group.
The time is always hard to make at Blenheim with its undulations, two long water crossings, and perhaps even more so this year with the course going clockwise, so we can look forward to a real cross country competition on Saturday. U.S. Team Coach David O’Connor says we can also hope to look forward to a strong finish from our U.S. combinations, and he likes the course too.
“The footing is fantastic, even if it rains I think it will be good, and it’s unbelievably beautifully presented, as David Evans’ courses always are. I don’t think it’s the strongest one I’ve ever seen; going this way I think it’s also a little easier — it’s a little harder fitness wise and a little easier course wise, but there’s a lot to jump especially towards the end.”
Of all the CCI3* events in the U.S., David would compare Blenheim to Fair Hill: “It’s the strongest CCI3* that we have because of the terrain and the footing so it feels a lot like that, they have similar qualities. Galway is flatter and the terrain is not as much of an issue there, Jersey is a course that feels very intense whereas this is a big, galloping course. This is a very good group we have here this year; we’re looking to be very competitive here. I think everybody has got experience. I’m looking for a very good weekend.”
You can read a description of the course here and check out our photo gallery below. I’ll be trying to catch up with all our riders in between the dressage to get their thoughts on the course, and perhaps drag them out to walk a couple of fences with us! Thanks for making Eventing Nation a part of your Blenheim experience, we’ll be back with much more — Go the USA at Blenheim Palace, Go Eventing!