Ride Times and An Early Look At The Cross-Country Course

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This is the magical bracelet that gets me back in the barns.  This is my 10th consecutive Rolex, and, as always, my goals are to have fun, learn a lot, and hang out with my friends.  This year will be a little different because I get to bring a few thousand members of Eventing Nation along for the ride.

I took a quick walk around the XC course with my friend Lauren Kieffer this afternoon.  My main goal was to keep Lauren relaxed and to make the jumps look shorter by standing next to them.  I’m 6′ 3″, and there’s a reason nobody walks Rolex the first time with a midget little person.  But, I did get a chance to see the course along the way.
(1) There’s a water jump without any jumps.  Seriously.  The water between the trakehner and the coffin doesn’t have any jumps in it, but the roped off track make the horses gallop through it.
(2) The Head of the Lake has two drops into water.  There’s a brush drop in going towards the main arena, 4 strides to a left corner.  Then, it’s out of the water, a short right handed loop and another drop over a rail into water followed by a very tricky uphill angled vertical out of the water.
(3) In general, the course is big but not overly technical.  All of the combinations give the horses time to see and analyze the out elements.
(4) The distances that don’t walk perfect tend to walk a little long, but I will have more about the distances when I go on a couple of course walks with coaches.
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A lot of the horses were ridden or hacked this morning at least once and will be ridden again this evening after the jog.  The main arena opens at 4:30 and most riders will take advantage of the chance to school or at least hack the horses in the main arena to give them a look at the environment and grandstands.
-Ashdale Cruise Master is better on the flat than I anticipated.  I briefly watched a few of the riders on the flat, and Cruise Master stood out as having quality gaits and good focus.  Oliver can definitely be in the top 5 after dressage.

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