EN’s coverage of Boekelo is presented by Kentucky Performance Products.
It’s nearly time for cross-country day at the 2023 renewal of Military Boekelo, the finale of the FEI Nations Cup series, the penultimate opportunity to gain an Olympic team qualification, and a battle for glory between 112 of the world’s best horses and riders in this uniquely exciting CCIO4*-L.
Cross-country is officially set to begin at 9.30 a.m. local time (8.30 a.m. BST/5.30 a.m. EST), with Australia’s Ryan Wood and Cooley Flight first out of the box as our pathfinders. This year, Adrian Ditcham’s course has a bit of a new look – many of the well-known loops are still in situ, including the seriously tough main water, which sits at 20AB and 21AB this year, but a couple of the former paths through the twisty woods have gone by the wayside and been replaced by new, more open stretches of the track. That means that the flow of the course generally feels more galloping, and while the intensity has been slightly increased in some combinations, it’s a nice mix of tough asks and mental and physical breathers. That, in a way, is part of the challenge – can riders make the most of those more straightforward sections while keeping their horses on the boil for the tough bits?
“As a result [of losing part of the Teesinkbos area], I had to save time elsewhere in the route, and we placed some extra unjumpables just before some obstacles to slow down the pace of the competitors,” says course designer Adrian Ditcham. “Because the forest is gone, we had to find places to take back time. It’s not our intention that too many come in within the optimum time. Slowing riders down is difficult enough given the excellent condition of the soil as a result of the good weather, but every time they have to pull the reins, it takes back a second.”
Two new obstacles have been introduced, at the final two fences — a table fence at 29 and a friendly brush-topped rolltop at 30, which replaces an ostensibly straightforward table that last year ended up being a surprise bogey fence, and was ultimately removed in the latter stages of the day.
“The longer you do this job, you learn that you can never help the riders enough,” muses Adrian.
Here’s the tech specs of tomorrow’s course:
Optimum time: 10:06
Official length: 5750m
All the action is set to be streamed for free via the FEI TV YouTube channel, as well as through ClipMyHorse. Here’s a full look at the times, and, below, a whizzy walk-through of the course through our lens. Plus, if you still need to catch up on the action so far, check out our day one dressage report here, and our day two report here.
Here’s when our US combinations will be riding:
James Alliston and Karma (75th overnight): 10.03 a.m. (9.03 a.m. BST/4.03 a.m. Eastern)
Cassie Sanger and Fernhill Zoro (67th overnight): 10.39 a.m. (9.39 a.m. BST/4.39 a.m. Eastern)
Jennie Brannigan and FE Connory (86th overnight): 11.30 a.m. (10.30 a.m. BST/5.30 a.m. Eastern)
Phillip Dutton and Denim (68th overnight): 12.06 p.m. (11.06 a.m. BST/6.06 a.m. Eastern)
Hallie Coon and Cute Girl (2nd overnight): 13.39 p.m. (12.39 p.m. BST/7.39 a.m. Eastern)
Tiana Coudray and D’Artagnan (41st overnight): 14.57 p.m. (13.57 p.m. BST/8.57 a.m. Eastern)
Cosby Green and Jos Ufo de Quidam (73rd overnight): 15.48 p.m. (14.48 p.m. BST/9.48 a.m. Eastern)