Good morning from cross country Saturday at Red Hills International Horse Trials! For many horses this is their first big ask of the season, and course designer Mike Etherington-Smith has assembled a stout set of questions to be pondered and hopefully answered correctly.
“Big,” “bold” and “beautiful” are all words that competitors have used to describe the CIC3* track. Dressage leader Marilyn Little reflected, “The questions seem strong but very, very fair and evenly distributed throughout the course. There’s a lot to do at the beginning but also a lot to do at the end. It seems like a lot of questions in six minutes, and it looks like a ton of fun.”
The 2018 edition marks Mike Etherington-Smith’s fourth year as designer of the CIC3* and Advanced courses; the CIC2*, Intermediate, CIC1* and Prelim courses are designed by David O’Connor. Shout-out to builders Tyson Rementer and Levi Ryckewaert for their work in creating a course that melds seamlessly with the landscape.
The 2018 courses feature several changes, the biggest being that the track is reversed for all levels from previous years. Mike explains, “In turning the course around there is always a risk of spoiling what has been going on, but I hope that the flow and feel will work as well even though it will probably be a bit different for those who have been coming here for many years. As course designer it is important that the course have a good balance to it, asks a variety of questions whilst at the same time sets horses and riders up in a positive and enthusiastic frame of mind at the beginning of the season for what lies ahead.”
“As always, I truly hope that everyone has a good time and benefits from their run around the course,” Mike says. “It is not an easy track to go fast around, given the mix of open areas and woods but, having said that, everyone should be able to settle into a rhythm and get their seasons off to a positive start.”
For an even deeper dive, check out this virtual course walk courtesy of the good folks at CrossCountry App. There is audio from Mike on the CIC3* — thank you for the recordings, Jane Barron!
CIC3* show jumping begins Saturday at 9 a.m. followed by cross country at 10:50 a.m. The Advanced cross country takes place immediately after the CIC3*, starting at 12:31 p.m. Until then, go eventing!