The Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event confirmed to EN that Capt. Mark Phillips has been named the new course designer for the CCI3*, CIC3*, CCI2* and CIC2* levels. He replaces John Williams, who designed the courses for 14 years since the inception of the event.
“The courses are very different,” Mark said, especially when considering that the track now includes additional acreage following extensive negotiations with state, county and local entities regarding the land adjacent to the cross country course at the Horse Park of New Jersey.
“The new land allows for an additional 600 meters through another field, which will help with the flow,” Mark said. “It will have a totally new look and totally new feel. We’re not building a lot of new fences, but I’ve reversed some.”
Jane Cory, Jersey Fresh event organizer, said the organizing committee is thrilled to have Mark on board. “With the additional acreage to work with, we’re excited to see how that can open up the courses and change the flow,” Jane said. “Mark will bring invaluable insight to that.”
Looking to additional changes, the famous Jersey Shore is slated to get a makeover that will lower the island by 1 foot. The idea came when Mark spoke to Richard Nicoll, course designer for the Garden State Combined Driving Event, which is held annually at the Horse Park of New Jersey.
“Richard and I both think that the island is too high, so we will work together on a budget with the combined drivers to lower it,” Mark said. “That will make it much softer, more attractive and nicer for the horses.”
The courses will not run through the main arena as they have for the past two years, and Mark emphasized that his goal is to give a better look and flow to all four of the tracks, which have been more twisting with tight turns in recent years.
“It will be easier to get the horse in a good rhythm, so it should be a better experience for the horses and riders,” he said. “If the horses and riders enjoy it then they will want to come back and jump it, and that will create more support and sponsorship for the event.”
Mark said he is “the new boy on the block” when it comes to working with Jersey Fresh, but he has thoroughly enjoyed the process so far and looks forward to working with their team. He will return to the venue during the second week of April to place the jumps and set the lines and distances.
“I think we’re on a good path, and I hope this will mean an exciting future for Jersey Fresh. John Williams has done a great job and been there for 14 years. It was time to give it a new direction and new change,” Mark said.
“I only have three years left on my license, so hopefully I can make a significant change in the next three years and then someone younger can take it on and go on to bigger and better things.”
While John will no longer design the courses, he will stay on as a member of the organizing committee and continue in his role as co-organizer of the event alongside Morgan Rowsell. The step away from designing at Jersey Fresh also aligns with John’s goals to pursue additional officials licenses, Jane said.
While the FEI has not yet officially confirmed that Mark will be the course designer for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, he is widely expected to get the nod.
“The fact that riders can come to Jersey to get a little taste of what might be coming at WEG is something we feel is a big asset we have to offer this year,” Jane said.
This year’s Jersey Fresh International Three Day Event will be held May 10-14, 2017, when the event will also celebrate its 15th anniversary. Be sure to bookmark www.jfi3d.com for more information.