Eric Winter’s Fidelity Blenheim International CCI*** course, beautifully built by David Evans and his team, is a real test – big with lots of accuracy questions and a couple of steep hills amongst the rolling terrain the riders that jump clear round here on Saturday can rest assured that they’re sitting on some pretty special horses for the future. US Team Coach David O’Connor has yet to walk the course but agreed that the cross country here has a well-eaned reputation for being very strong, “They’ve upped the game from the Blenheim that we had here five or six years ago and that’s why we’ve really brought more experienced horses than first-timers”
Clark Montgomery working Loughan Glen, 5th here in 2011
Speaking of which, the North American horses and riders are all looking super – they all passed the First Horse Inspection, albeit not without a nervous moment when Cindy Rawson’s Mocharabuiee was sent to the holding box, but was accepted on re-inspection. Photos and full report to come later.
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the ground line is on the lip of a ditch which gradually gets wider and wider the further along to the right that you go. Eric Winter seems to be fond of these offset ground lines, another little quirk to test accuracy.
This is a massive brush corner, off a right-handed turn and heading down the steep hill to the first long water crossing
After galloping through the lake, then up a hill, the course winds through woodland, and on coming back out of the trees, this coffin at 6 also comes off a turn.
The C element also features Eric’s trademark offset ground line
Fences 8 and 9 seen on approach
Fence 8 close up
Both elements of 9 are on their own little mounds; left hand corner to right hand corner
The jumps are absolute works of art
This is a massive table on the top of the hill before you go down and back across the lake into the park. Due to the line of trees in the middle of the combination you have to commit to which side of the corner you intend to take going out; the quicker route is on the left.
Heading back across the lake – two angled cabins two strides apart, and a big drop on the back of the second one into the water
A big jump up out of the water to the slightly quicker dragon on the right, or jump out on the left and come all the way round and back over that dragon ‘backwards’
A big jump out of the water
Check out the ground line!
The bank up to the rolltop at 15
After another pull up the hill comes this doubleof angled wagons
The horses gallop into the main arena at the top corner (the H end of the arena), go around the outside of the dressage arena to this stunning basket fence by F, and then back along the A short side of the arena to tackle 20 A, B and C down the opposite long side.
The ‘in’ to the Dew Pond
The ‘out’ is almost at a right angle to the first element
A flyer at 22 – I think this fence has been on the course almost every year since Blenheim started the Horse Trials, and can be jumped from either direction.
Two angled houses on the home straight
It aint over….the penultimate fence and another question where it would be easy to get caught out
The B element on flat ground – more beautiful craftsmanship
The final fence. EN wishes all the competitors safe rounds, and we can’t wait to bring you all the action from the event as it happens. Thanks as always for reading, and Go the Fidelity Blenheim International Horse Trials.