Welcome to cross country day at the Dutta Corp Fair International! The CCI2* riders set out on course at 8:30 a.m. EST, with two-star cross country expected to run past noon. EN’s own Maggie Deatrick, who is competing in the CCI2* aboard Divine Comedy, offered her thoughts on the course in our two-star course walk here, and now we’re bringing you course designer Derek di Grazia’s commentary on the CCI3* course.
The CCI3* course runs in the opposite direction of years past, and Derek said, “it will be interesting to see how the change in direction affects the overall endurance aspect of the track even though the distance is much the same as in the past.”
The first four jumps are straightforward galloping fences, “which should help establish the rhythm and settle horses down before heading to the first combination at the Frog Pond,” Derek said.
The Frog Pond offers an option at the B element after the jump into the water, which “gives a different line to the Brush Away jump coming out of the water. I would suspect that both lines will be jumped, and it will just be a matter of which line is thought to more attractive to the particular horse and rider,” Derek said.
At the Haunted Hill, riders will need to think about the control required for the jump in over the oxer and then “the adequate step and accuracy to jump the right handed open corner off of a left handed bend,” Derek said. Though there’s an option here, it will eat up a lot of time on the clock.
There’s a long gallop to the Fair Hill Table at fence 7:
Then riders come to the Hobbit Hill at fence 8. “This combination not only requires accuracy but also a forward ride to cover the distance between the two hobbit houses,” Derek said.
There’s another long gallop to the Sunburst at fence 9:
Then riders come to the middle of course where they can catch up on time coming to the Chesapeake Water, but “they need to make sure not to go too fast, as there is still more climbing and a long way to go,” Derek said. The brush at 10a requires a bold rider, and riders “need to keep their position and maintain their direction as it comes up very quickly,” he added.
Riders should fly over the Sneaky Snake at 11 before they head up the hill to Rachel’s Rails.
Rachel’s Rails has been rebuilt this year, but it will still be an influential combination requiring a brave ride at the right speed,” Derek said.
Two large galloping fences come next, with riders climbing to the top of a hill toward a new combination on course at fence 15.
A new combination this year, the Persimmon Turn and Floating Brushes are set on a bending right turn. “The right speed and line is crucial to make sure that they negotiate the turn,” Derek said. “It is important not to get carried down the slope after the first jump in order to jump the second.”
Riders than gallop back up the hill toward the main arena and the Dutta Farm Yard, which caused quite a bit of trouble last year. “Approaching the Dutta Keyhole (at fence 16), they have to give the horses confidence to jump through as it will look on the approach as if they are jumping into space,” Derek said.
Riders then go down the hill to the main arena, where they need to “find their line to the corners and at the same time know that they are on the right length stride to negotiate the distance between the two corners,” Derek said.
The exit from the main arena follows a different track past the food shops and over a Double Brush at fence 18:
Then riders come to the Sunken Road at fence 19, where an “active, powerful canter is needed to jump the Scenic Log into the road and then maintain the direction to jump the Summer House at the top of the embankment.”
The long gallop and Oxer Massif at fence 20 gives horses and riders a little breather:
Then it’s back up the hill, where riders will need to keep an accurate line over a triple brush chevron and corner combination. “At this point in the course, the horses may start to feel a little tired, which means riders need to be there even more to help out,” Derek said.
The Potting Shed gives riders a let up:
Then it’s to the Drop and Turn log and Angled Brush, which also appeared on last year’s course. “Riders need to have the right length stride and know their line as it comes up fast, and at this point riders must avoid an unwanted glance off. If the riders are clear until now, they will just be trying to not make any mistakes,” Derek said.
Next up is the combination at the Spring House Water. “While there is not a jump into the water, riders need to keep their horse together to jump the duck in the water and then the line to the Angled Log at the top of the slope,” Derek said.
Then there’s a gallop and three straightforward jumps bringing riders to the finish:
It’s a beautifully presented course, and the sunny, breezy day we had yesterday dried up the ground nicely. It should be perfect going when three-star riders set out on course later this afternoon.