With fewer than 50 days to go until the eventing first horse inspection at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, the length of Capt. Mark Phillips’s cross country course at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina has been called into question.
The track was anticipated to be about 11 minutes in length, set over an estimated 5,200 meters with approximately 42 total jumping efforts, including an uphill pull at the end of the course to serve as an ultimate test of stamina and fitness. The uphill pull is a new addition to Tryon’s cross country course, with considerable earthwork required to create the elevation.
An FEI spokesperson confirmed to EN today that the length of the track may now be changed.
“Work on the cross country footing at Tryon is ongoing as there is an area on the course that has been impacted by recent heavy rain. This may have a bearing on the length of the course but will not affect the technical difficulty of the track,” an FEI spokesperson told EN. “A final decision on this will be made before the nominated entries deadline of 13 August, allowing National Federations to name their final selections. Definite entries for Eventing are on 3 September.”
Doug Outlaw, a spokesman for the National Weather Service’s Greenville-Spartanburg office, told EN that the rainfall total of 3.81 inches for July to date is “exactly normal” for the area surrounding Tryon during this time of year. It is about 1 inch below the 30-year average of 4.8 inches for the area during the month of July. National Weather Service models are currently predicting normal rainfall in the area for the month of August.
While US Equestrian named the U.S. Eventing Team on June 26, multiple National Federations have not yet named their teams. Australian Chef d’Equipe Stuart Tinney confirmed today that Equestrian Australia is waiting to name their final team until the length of the cross country course has been confirmed.
“As the FEI have recently advised us that there may be some fairly significant changes to the length of the cross-country course this may have an impact on our selection tactics,” Stuart said, “and so we are awaiting final notification before we select the five combinations to represent Australia at Tryon.”
Equestrian Australia was told to expect “formal advice from the FEI and the Tryon Organising Committee of the details and distances of the cross-country course” on Aug. 10, three days before the nominated entry deadline for WEG.
Eventing at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games will run Sept. 12-16. Tryon is currently hosting the United States Pony Club East Coast Eventing Championships on July 25-29. An EN correspondent took the following photos of construction at the WEG venue today, July 26.